Divisional status for Ladakh: Guv’s right step in right direction

Binoo Joshi

J K News Today  Commentary

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to accord the Divisional Status to  Ladakh will go a long way in  addressing the issues of their remoteness from the rest of the state and the country, particularly during winter months  is a right step in right direction .

There are several reasons that justify  the grant of the Divisional status  to Ladakh region that has the largest area  as compared to the other two regions of the state , not only it is sparsely populated and strategically located , but  its remoteness and the absence of the administrative units  has nation-wide implications .

There are celebrations across the region  as a long pending demand of the region has been accepted . The credit goes to  Governor Malik who has  responded to the sensitivities of the region and its needs . It will make a huge difference to the lives of the people .

Since this decision has given powers to the local people who have easy accessibility to the corridors of the administration that was stationed hundreds of miles away from them . Not only that there was a long distance for the people of the region to cover to get their issues addressed at the Divisional level , but also there were issues of connectivity . The roads would close for almost six months and  the air services were quite uncertain  during winters .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who visited  the region in the severest winter on February 3 had had a first hand experience of the difficulties of the people . The Governor , too, briefed him about the  difficulties of the people . Their difficulties are at much higher level than any other area in the region .

The Governor’s administration has  also approved creation of the posts of Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police , Ladakh , Leh

Other measures taken by the  Governor’s administration including the constitution of a committee under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary to Government, Planning, Development and Monitoring Department to identify the posts of divisional level heads of various departments that may be required for the new Division; particularly their staffing pattern, role and responsibilities and proposed location of these offices are equally praiseworthy.

The people of Ladakh have, for a long time, been demanding effective local institutional arrangements which can help promote and accelerate the pace of development and equitable all-round growth and development having regard to its peculiar geo-climatic and topographic conditions, stimulate and seek fullest participation of the local community in the decision-making process. At present the powers of local governance have already been decentralized by formation of Hill Development Councils for the Leh and Kargil Districts. This was given effect to by enacting the Jammu and Kashmir Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act, 1997. Under the said Act, the Hill Development Councils were established both for Leh and Kargil Districts. In order to strengthen the respective Hill Development Councils Leh and Kargil, the LAHDC Act, 1997 has been amended further in 2018 to give them more powers.

During winter months the entire Ladakh region, comprising both Leh and Kargil, remain cut-off from rest of the country for almost six months and air travel via Leh is the only mode of transport available to this region, which makes it impossible for people to visit other parts of the country for various purposes. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the area makes the area eligible for establishing a separate Division for the said region.

Currently, the Ladakh region forms a part of the Kashmir Division of Jammu and Kashmir. There have been persistent demands from the region for creation of a separate Division claiming that the tough/distinct topographic conditions and unique cultural status, the Ladakh region deserves a special treatment particularly due to the distance from the capital.

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