In a major strategic push to assert its presence along the 2,167-mile disputed border with China, the Narendra Modi government has announced a major plan to attract more settlers in the rough Himalayan landscape. On Thursday, the government approved the establishment of an integrated multi-purpose infrastructure development corporation for the union territory of Ladakh.
“Presently, there is no such similar organization within the newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh. Corporation will work for industry, tourism, transport and marketing of local products and handicraft. Corporation will also work as main construction agency for infrastructure development in Ladakh”, a statement issued after a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi reads.
Union Cabinet approves setting up of Central University worth Rs 750 crore in Ladakh.— BJP (@BJP4India) July 22, 2021
The university will not only improve standards of higher education but also act as a model for other educational institutes in Ladakh. pic.twitter.com/sk33aN9D7N
The government also announced a $102 million dedicated fund for establishing the first central university in Ladakh.
Modi said that steps will ensure the all-round development of Ladakh and provide a range of opportunities to the young population there.
Ladakh has become major bone of contention between China and India, with Beijing objecting to infrastructure development by the Indian side in the territory. China says that it does not recognise the “illegally” constituted Ladakh union territory.
Earlier in the day, the Indian Foreign Ministry reiterated that a prolongation of the existing situation in Ladakh is not in the interest of either side and that it is visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner. India considers China as occupying some regions in the Depsang Plains, Gogra Post, and Hot Spring in Ladakh.
Earlier this month, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that China has not been working with India to resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh following the successful disengagement in the Pangong Lake-area earlier this year. However, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said "that the rights and wrongs of what happened at the China-India border area last year are clear and the responsibility does not lie with the Chinese side".
Chinese and Indian troops were locked in conflict a year ago near Pangong Lake in Ladakh, leading to casualties on both sides.