Kargil-The cul de sac of development and connectivity
No sooner had the Srinagar-Kargil road link been declared open that massive landslides ensured that it continues to be blocked. In the times of yore we have heard from ancestors that this route would only be open for peak summer days. This is 21st century and still a part of the state with a population of over 3 lakh people is left to fend for them because we failed to provide them with an alternate road link, could not build tunnels in time and thought they are better off being stranded in their isolation for five to six months. How do the people of Kargil region survive during winters? Who ensures in minus 20 degrees Celsius that every emergency healthcare patient reaches hospitals? Who ensures that every soul has enough food to eat for the winters? And most importantly why we failed for all the decades to provide the region with an alternate road link or by simply bypassing dangerous passes like Zojilla by building long distance tunnels?
We can think of the people of Leh region but their communication with the rest of India is good even during winters with the Airport being virtually in its lap. Kargil, we must not forget, is sandwiched between Leh and Srinagar, an arduous, hair-pin bend infested journey both sides of the road. Leh with its predominantly Buddhist majority population has always held an upper hand as the region has an airport, gets thousands of foreign tourists who just use Kargil for one-off sightseeing, is better connected via road in winters and is ideologically more oriented to the deep Indian state.
The people of Kargil are known for their honesty and hard work. Even now the road link connecting them to Srinagar stands blocked due to landslides. Amazing how hardy the sons of the soil are. Uncomplainingly, the go about their daily routine. The government has always looked the other way when it comes to developing Kargil as a tourist place or for its overall development. Let us hope things change for Kargil.