Planning for Ladakh’s Future :The GoI’s Proactive Approach to Infrastructure Development
The Government of India (GoI) has identified the upgradation of infrastructure in Ladakh as a top priority, particularly with regards to all-weather road connectivity. The past thirty-three months of face-to-face confrontation with Chinese troops has highlighted a number of shortcomings in this area, and the lack of an all-weather road to Ladakh even after 75 years of independence is a matter of great concern.
To address this issue, the GoI has developed an alternative Manali-Darcha-Padam-Nimu axis road that is safe from artillery and missile firing by both China and Pakistan. This road represents a significant improvement over the other two highways in the region, the exposed Srinagar-Drass-Kaksar-Kargil highway near the Line of Control (LoC) and the Manali-Upshi-Leh highway near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
However, the Manali-Darcha-Padam-Nimu road still has a bottleneck due to heavy snow at the 16703-foot-high Shinkun La. Recognizing the strategic importance of this road, the GoI has approved the construction of a Rs. sixteen hundred crore tunnel at Shinkun La. When completed by 2025, this tunnel will be a game changer, enabling swift all-weather movement of the army and heavy equipment.
This will have significant implications for the deployment of forces and equipment in the Kargil-Siachen sector or Eastern Ladakh, as well as for all-weather development work in the region. Currently, many development works are delayed due to the lack of material and machinery, but the tunnel will allow for faster movement of these resources.
Additionally, if civilians are allowed to use the same road, it will open up new opportunities for them. Currently, air travel is the only viable transport option during the winter months, but exorbitant airfares make this option unaffordable for many. By providing all-weather road connectivity, the GoI is taking a significant step towards improving the quality of life for the people of Ladakh.
This decision by the GoI is the result of a continuous thought process, planning, and decisive decision-making. By prioritizing infrastructure development in Ladakh, the GoI is taking a proactive approach to ensuring the region’s security and promoting economic growth.