Ladakh region is the biggest region in the state in terms of geographical area. The area a difficult terrain area presents a tough challenge to anyone who either visits the place for a sojourn or even a business trip.
Living at a high altitude with dry arid conditions is not an easy task. Lack of oxygen and the weather vagaries notwithstanding, the area is one of the backward regions in terms of its infrastructure and other amenities.
The region is fighting a tough battle as it is faced with the challenge of connectivity both road wise as well as other means. Though last Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Leh to unveil a plaque to mark the commencement of construction of the 14.31 kilometre-long Zojila tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section of National Highway 1.
The tunnel will reduce the travel time from Baltal to Drass drastically. It will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, which otherwise remain cut-off from rest of country for several months in the winter due to heavy snow.
The movement of traffic is limited to around six months on the Srinagar Ladakh highway as due to heavy snowfall during the winters, the highway remains closed from December to April, thereby making air the only mode of connectivity.
The 14.15 km-long, two-lane bi-directional single tube Zojila tunnel is being constructed along with a 14.20 km long Parallel Escape (egress tunnel). It will be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel.
However, the people of Ladakh region are complaining of being ignored on other fronts as they have threatened a complete lockdown owing to lack of basic facilities like power supply, better roads and telecom services.
The threat of a lockdown has come amidst a peak tourist season as schools in northern part of the country are shut due to summer vacation. According to Ladakhi Budisht Association Zanskar (LBAZ), which advocates the cause of Zanskar region of Ladakh, the state government has failed to provide them basic facilities.
The demands of the people seem to be genuine in nature. The region is facing major power and connectivity crisis. Mobile networks are only available for six to seven hours in a day. Though various dignitaries and ministers have assured the people of getting their issues resolved, but so far nothing tangible has been achieved.
The power outages have hit small time trades and small scale industries. Offices, restaurants and other establishments have been hit hard during tourist season. The visiting domestic and foreign tourists too are hassled due to poor or no connectivity and as such this year the tourist footfall is not that encouraging so far.
The region is a hit among foreign tourists and if the availability of infrastructure remains the same then we cannot expect any betterment for the region on tourism front.