Leh, Oct 7 (PTI) Highlighting various measures taken by the central government for overall development of Ladakh post the union territory status, Union minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday said the BJP does not believe in mere announcements and would do whatever necessary for the prosperity of the region.
He said the construction of the Zojilla tunnel along the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway would ensure round the year road connectivity to Ladakh.
'I am sure that the tunnel on this strategically important road will be completed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rule,' he said.
Thakur, who reached here to kick-start the official campaign of the BJP for the upcoming polls to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, also announced that the Centre has decided that the developmental funds sanctioned for the UT would be non-lapsable to ensure their utilisation during the next financial year.
'The BJP promised UT status to Ladakh and fulfilled it and opened the gates of development of the region by raising the annual budget five times from the previous Rs 55 crore. The constituency development fund of elected LAHDC members was also enhanced five times, while the grants in the 15th financial commission report are expected to further boost the infrastructure in the region,' he told reporters here.
Thakur said the BJP government at the Centre had taken various initiatives for Ladakh keeping in view the peculiar situation of the region.
'The detailed project report (DPR) for tourism has been prepared and there is a proposal to upgrade hotel management institute at a cost of Rs 33 crore, while 12 trekking routes are being thrown open besides a Buddhist circuit,' the minister of state for finance said as he listed various steps taken by the Centre for the overall development of Ladakh.
He said the BJP does not believe in making mere statements. 'We will fulfill all the promises we have made like we did by accepting your long standing demand of UT status.' 'Zojilla tunnel will be a reality during the Modi government and so a new and upgraded airport terminal,' Thakur said and announced that the government is planning to set up medical and engineering colleges, G B Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment campus, telemedicine centres and a national skill training extension centre in Ladakh.
The University of Ladakh and degree colleges were set up and are functional, while the Central University was approved which will have a separate Buddhist studies centre, he said.
'The government is also planning to establish 20 NCC centres and a cricket academy and ensure adequate funds for the promotion of local games,' Thakur said, adding 'it is my promise to host the local cricket players in Himachal Pradesh for training free of cost'.
He said everyone was talking about the possibility of solar power generation in Ladakh but nothing was done in the past.
'We will provide grid connectivity and will explore 7500 MW solar energy to transform Ladakh into the powerhouse of the country,' Thakur said.
He said the prime minister's promise to turn Ladakh into an organic region would be fulfilled and a special development package for apricot and pashmina goat is also in the offing.
'The government effort led to 20 per cent increase in the cultivation area, 10 per cent special duty allowance and various other allowances under 7th pay commission were given to government employees,' he said, adding 6,471 vacancies in government departments would be filled up to help the administration function smoothly and efficiently.
The minister said 250 borewells and water tankers were also sanctioned for the region till all the houses would get connection by tap water under the Jal Jeevan mission.
The telecommunication and internet facility was strengthened with the setting up of 54 mobile towers, he said.
'The money will be spent in Leh like it is being done on the development of small cities,' Thakur said, adding all these works would take Ladakh to new heights of development and economic prosperity.
In response to a question, he said the setting of various educational institutes was meant to attract students from outside and new subjects like studies on glaciers and environment would be introduced. PTI TAS AB AQS AQS