Siachen area now open to tourists, says Rajnath Singh

NEW DELHI : Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday announced that tourists will now be allowed into areas of the Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield. This comes 10 days before Jammu & Kashmir is bifurcated into two new Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Dedicating to the nation the newly-built Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge over the Shyok river in Ladakh, Singh, in a series of tweets, said: “The Siachen area is now open for tourists and tourism. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for Tourism purposes.”

“Ladakh has tremendous potential in Tourism. Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers,” he said. On the bridge over the Shyok, he said: “This bridge has been completed in record time. It will not only provide all-weather connectivity in the region but also be a strategic asset in the border areas.”

He reiterated: “Kashmir is India’s internal and integral matter. Even the Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping did not mention Kashmir in his meeting with PM Shri Narendra Modi in Mahabalipuram. China’s recent statement for action against terror is also significant.”

“India shares cordial relations with China. There are perceptional differences between both the countries on the boundary issue but the issue has been handled with great maturity and responsibly. Both the countries have not allowed the situation to escalate or go out of hand,” he said. Meanwhile, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Singh has given its nod for Rs 3,300- crore worth indigenously designed and developed equipment for the armed forces.

Three projects will be designed under the Make in India programme. The first two projects include third generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and auxiliary power units (APUs) for the T-72 and T-90 tanks. It will be the first time the Ministry of Defence has offered complex military equipment to be designed, developed and manufactured by the Indian private industry. The third indigenous project is for discrete electronic warfare (EW) systems for high altitude terrain, which will be designed and developed by DRDO and manufactured by a private company.