This Article is From Aug 18, 2014

Near the Border in Ladakh, Soldiers Challenged by Lack of Roads

Finding adequate staff to execute and monitor the construction of roads in Ladakh is an uphill task

Ladakh: Ladakh is as remote as it is vast and empty - for miles together there is no population - but that does not make administering the country's largest district any easier. Roads continue to remain a major problem and reaching the villages on the border along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or the de-facto border with China poses a big challenge for the armed forces.

For instance, the Border Roads Organisation was supposed to build a road to Demchok, on the LAC, but an environmental dispute has prevented it from happening. This is a huge worry, given the fact that there is no road that can be used by the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in such a strategically-important area.

"This is a sector which is very strategic for us... We have three villages on this belt which is along the LAC and roads are tied up in the wildlife sanctuaries and there are patches where water is all over... you don't have a track," said Simrandeep Singh, District Collector of Ladakh.

Finding adequate staff to execute and monitor the construction of roads is an uphill task.

"They do not have junior engineers in this entire block and a junior engineer is very important in rural development work... So, in the absence of a JE, even if the money is there, the work doesn't get started. Then we have a very short working season and in those five-six months, we need to complete the work because the work stops after the month of September," Mr Singh said.

 Village elders say they have been demanding a road for as long as they can remember.

The central government says it wants to develop the frontiers with China. But going by the dismal record in Ladakh so far, it's going to be an uphill task, one that is going to take years to complete.