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Siachen: World’s Highest Battlefield, Now Opened For Tourism

The Government of India has announced that the Siachen area, more famously known as the world’s highest battlefield is now open to welcome tourists. The decision has been taken to open the entire area from Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post for tourism purposes.

The step has been taken in lieu of boosting the tourism industry of the newly formed union territory, Ladakh. The decision is set to give the common people a window to appreciate the tough work done by the Indian Army and Engineers in the harshest of conditions and inhospitable terrains. Simultaneously, The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also inaugurated The Col. Chewang Rinchin Bridge on the Shyok River in Ladakh, located about 45 kilometers away from the country’s border with China.The 430-meter-long bridge, built by Border Roads Organisation, connects Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie in Eastern Ladakh.

The Siachen Glacier at the height of around 20,000 ft. in the Karakoram Range is known as the highest militarized zone in the world where the soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds. Avalanches and landslides are common at the glacier during the winters and temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

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’.

The decision comes by the Government on the backdrop of the Indian Army had moving a proposal for opening up Siachen to tourists with a focus to showcase the working conditions of troops serving in the sector, and the government gave its nod.

But the decision hold its own share of concerns as well. The environmental issues that may arise out due to a spike in human presence and subsequent degradation by them is the biggest cause of concern. At a time when almost all the world governments are facing protest marches and rallies to tackle the adversaries of climate change, the Indian Government should be very careful that the decision to open the Siachen area for tourism do not turn out to be an environmentally challenging one.

The Siachen Area also being a strategic and sensitive area, security issues especially concerning the foreigners will have to be factored in. On the flip side, this will motivate the youngsters of the country to join Indian Army.

SOURCE: Business Standard

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