India expanding defence network in Ladakh region, says Nirmala Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said that India was expanding its defence network in strategically important Ladakh region, with work on a vital road to provide the Army an all-seasoned road access to north-eastern Ladakh being completed.
“Being the Defence Minister, I have visited Ladakh many times. I have visited Siachen (world’s highest battlefield), Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO and Chusul to understand the defence needs in the region. You (Ladakhi people) are living on a sensitive border (with China and Pakistan). We have almost completed the work on the Leh-DBO road which will provide the Army an all-seasoned access to northern Ladakh,” Sitharaman said addressing a public rally at the historic Polo Ground in Leh town.
“Only work on the last stretch of the road is pending which will be completed soon. It will make our (Army) movement easier,” she said while highlighting the strategic importance of the road.
The Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) section of the road between Leh and Karakoram Pass is a key thrust area of the Ministry of Defence as it will ensure all-weather connectivity to this strategic northernmost corner of the country in view of aggressive neighbour China.
“All necessary defence activities in Himalayan states with international borders have been undertaken which include the construction of new highways and airports,” she said.
Sitharaman, along with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and senior leaders of state unit of BJP, were in Ladakh to campaign for the party candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal. The campaigning for the Ladakh seat came to an end on Saturday as the voting will take place on May 6.
The Defence Minister also revealed that the work on preparing a detailed project report (DPR) on the first-ever rail link to Ladakh, between Himachal Pradesh’s Bilaspur and Leh via Manali, had begun to ensure an all-weather alternative connectivity to the strategic road.
“Now, we will not have to wait for summers to reach Ladakh. The all-weather rail link will provide an alternative and direct link between Ladakh and the rest of the country. Our government is fully committed to fulfilling the aspirations of Ladakh,” the defence minister said.
In his address, Pema Khandu highlighted the “pro-people policies” of the Prime Minister for Himalayan states, including Ladakh, and said he would keep on supporting the people of Ladakh. “All MPs of the North-East region of the country will stand with BJP candidate, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, if he wins the elections,” he said.