The Indian Army would vacate Kargil lower plateau, also called Khurbathang Plateau of Kargil, which it has been using for firing, operational and logistic needs.
The decision was taken after a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Friday between the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil and the Army. The army will complete the evacuation process in six months. The MoU is being described as a great step forward by the people of Kargil and the local government of the region.
The MoU was signed between the deputy commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Kargil, Baseer ul Haq Choudhary, on behalf of the LAHDC, Kargil, and the Brigade Commander, 121 Infantry Division, Brigadier Vivek Bakshi on behalf of the Army. The MoU was signed in the presence of the chairman and chief executive councillor, LAHDC, Kargil, Feroz Ahmad Khan and the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Mountain Division, Major General Praveen Kumar Airy, AVSM.
Khan told Outlook that the army would be given substitute land near Maratha Unit Kurbathang and Mulbekh area. He described it as a landmark decision and will help in establishing a new and well-planned township in the Kargil region. He said for long people needed this land for expansion of township and previous governments had been taking up the issue with the army. He said the army was seeking compensation for structures it raised on this huge land and with it, no progress was made over the years. However, he said, this time compensation provision has been dropped. He says at the new places where the army is going to settle down in lieu of Khurbathang Plateau, the Ladakh administration will supply water and electricity. A young political leader of the region Sajjad Kargili described the MoU “good news for Kargil.”
Kargili said the Army had been in the area since 1948 but for the past 30 years as the population of Kargil region grew, there was no space to accommodate people. He says the Army had been also accommodative to the peoples’ concerns and the MoU would help people a great.
Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal described it as a historic development. "From the deepest core of our hearts, we extend gratitude to the entire leadership for the landmark decision which was a long pending demand of the people of Kargil,” he said. “No Ladakhi would have ever thought that the dream of the evacuation of Kargil Lower Plateau would ever come true,” he said, adding that it shows the intent of the government towards solving issues of the people of the border areas.
In 2015, the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government had asked the Army to vacate lands in Khurbathang Plateau of Ladakh after taking up the issue with the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar during the latter’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir.