NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday assured a delegation from Ladakh that the government is committed to fast-track the development of the Union territory and to meet aspirations of the people there. The assurance was given at a meeting held here between the 14-member delegation and a high-powered committee (HPC) for Ladakh headed by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, an official statement said.
The delegation included members of the Apex Body Leh (ABL) and Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA).
Meanwhile, sources said the delegation discussed with Rai their major demands, including statehood for the high-altitude region and bringing the area under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The delegation pressed for their four-point demands before Rai and sought an early resolution of their issues. The demands are statehood for Ladakh, two Lok Sabha seats (one each for Kargil and Leh), job opportunities for the residents of the UT and constitutional protection under the Sixth Schedule, the sources said.
According to the official statement, the minister emphasised that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and guidance of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Ministry of Home Affairs is committed to fast-track the development of Ladakh and to meet the aspirations of the people.
He said that significant progress has been achieved after the formation of the Union territory in 2019.
Due to this historic step of the formation of the Union territory, governance and thereby developments have been brought closer to the people of Ladakh.
Rai said a number of initiatives like increasing the budgetary allocation for the UT, increasing funds to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDCs), ensuring all-round connectivity, developing infrastructures like mobile networks, roads, construction of new helipads, etc. have been undertaken at a much faster pace.
The minister said the government would continue to engage with the ABL and KDA and people of Ladakh for holistic and sustainable development of the UT on regular basis.
ABL and KDA welcomed the decision of MHA for modifying the ‘Terms of References’ and also inclusion of new members, the statement said.
The ABL and KDA members submitted various issues pertaining to protection of rights of Ladakh residents, fast-track recruitment processes, strengthening of LAHDCs, greater participation in the decision making, etc.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted the high-powered committee for Ladakh under the chairmanship of Rai, with a mandate to discuss measures to protect the Ladakh region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and its strategic importance.
Also, to ensure protection of land and employment, measures for inclusive development and employment generation in the region, measures related to empowerment of LAHDCs of Leh and Kargil and constitutional safeguards that could be provided to ensure the measures and protection as mentioned above.
Several organisations of Ladakh were demanding a separate UT for the region for decades and the demand was fulfilled on August 5, 2019 with the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The KDA and the ABL, in the recent past, protested at different locations, including New Delhi, Jammu and Ladakh, highlighting the four demands.
The delegation had its last meeting with the high-powered committee of the Centre in June.