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Govt opens Siachen to boost tourism

October 22, 2019

The government announced on Monday that the Siachen area, which the world’s highest battlefield, is now open to tourists. Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the government has decided to open the entire area from Siachen base camp to Kumar Post for tourism purposes.

This step has been taken to boost tourism in Ladakh and will also make people realise and appreciate the tough work done by Army jawans in such extreme weather conditions. Singh was addressing a function in eastern Ladakh during the inaugural of colonel Chewang Rinchin bridge on Shyok river. 

During the event, he said, “The Ladakh MP in his address, mentioned about opening this area to tourism. And, I am happy to share that the government has decided to open a route from Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post for tourists. This step will make them appreciate the efforts put in by jawans, engineers and other workers.”

The Siachen Glacier, which stands at the height of 20,000 ft in the Karakoram range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world and where temperatures can be as low as minus 60 degree Celsius. Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winters.

According to official figures, the Army lost 163 personnel at the world’s highest battlefield during the last 10 years. India and Pakistan started deploying troops at the strategically key glacier in 1984 and mountaineering expeditions were allowed till then. The Glacier came under the strategic control of India in 1984 following ‘Operation Meghdoot’. 
Former northern command chief Lt general (retired) B S Jaswal, however, feels that environmental issues will be a matter of concern. He said, “Tourism and other activities will see a surge in waste dumping. This will hasten glacier retreat. Due to the presence of the Army, a lot of non-biodegradable waste is already present there and every day, about 1,000 kg is being added.”

He also added that while tourism may see a boost, the government should also provide strict security in the area and red lines should be drawn to restrict areas for visitors. This being a very sensitive area, security issues, especially concerning foreigners, will have to be factored in, he added.

Source: PTI

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