February 2004 News

Govt intends to open Damchok-China road : Mir

24 February 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

Jammu: Minister for Tourism, Housing and Urban Development Ghulam Hassan Mir has said that Government intends to open Damchok (Leh)-China road for pilgrims of Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra and for this the matter has been taken up with the Government of India. Responding to a question of P Namgyal and a supplementary of Prof Bhim Singh, the minister said, 'we want to open all the roads and it is not only the question of opening of Uri-Muzaffrabad road. The Government also wish to open R S Pura—Sialkot road or the Ladakh—China road for better relations with our neighbours. The authorities at Leh have taken up the matter with the Chairman Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, Art and Culture. A detailed proposal was sent in June 2003 for border trade with China at Damchok Leh and also for pilgrimage of Kailash Mansarovar. Namgyal pointed out that the issue being of much importance and sensitive nature must have taken up at higher level with the Government of India and because it also relates to the Ministry of External Affairs. The minister replied that he would take up personally with the Chief Minister so that he could personally initiate it with the Centre. As per the proposal the total distance from Leh to Taroben Parakha, the base camp for Kailash Mansarovar is about 623 kms. The road between Leh and Loma via Nyoma ( Sub Div Hq) is black topped. The remaining portion of the road from Leh to Damchok via Koyul is also being used as fair-weather road and as there are no passes, the road remains open throughout the year. There is plenty of force in the area so the evacuation and medical facilities are also sufficient. It has been reported that on the Chinese side, the towns of Tashigang and Garzong are located 35 and 150 kms away from Damchok. Moreover, this can be the shortest route of pilgrimage to Mansarovar for Indian devotees. In response to another question of Mohd Ikhlaq Khan, the Tourism minister said the Department is taking up matter of providing tourist infrastructure in different places where tourism potential has been identified. The areas shall be considered for this purpose in due course of time. Responding to question of G N Lone he said Rs 23.46 lakh have been incurred on construction of hutments as Yusmarg, which remained almost deserted during militancy, whileas a project report for Neelnag has been formulated by Town Planning organisation. Regarding development of Chrar-e-Sharief and Pukherpora as pilgrim tourism Mr Mir said that a tourist bungalow has already been constructed at Chrar-e-Sharief and face lifting including illumination in and around Pukerpora shrine has been taken up.


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