Manmohan Promises More Links To Ladakh
10 June 2005
Leh: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said yesterday his government was committed to modernising transport links and infrastructure across the country, including in Jammu and Kashmir, to facilitate the 'emotional and economic integration' of the nation. The government would take all steps, including an increase in air connectivity to the remote Ladakh region, to boost tourism and strengthen the economy of Kashmir, Dr Singh said at a function to rename the civil terminal of the airport here after noted Buddhist leader Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. 'Our government is committed to the modernisation of our infrastructure across the length and breadth of our vast subcontinent,' said Dr Singh, who began a three-day visit to Kashmir, his fourth to the state since assuming office in May last year. 'Whatever obstacles are there, including air connectivity, I can assure the people that the central government will work with the state government to realise the full tourist potential of this region'. Dr Singh was responding to pleas from Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma for more flights to Leh. 'Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will be beneficiaries of this process (of modernisation). I will ensure this,' said Dr Singh. 'From the islands of the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayan mountains we will invest in the modernisation of our airports, railways, roads, ports, waterways and telecom infrastructure. This will ensure that the emotional and economic integration of our country is better enabled.' 'We will also invest in the development of social infrastructure. Better schools, better hospitals and urban facilities. 'I hope the modernisation of Leh airport will bring more tourists, investors, scholars and men of peace and piety to this remote corner of our country. I hope it opens the gateways of prosperity for this region.' Paying a tribute to the 'proud and valiant people of Ladakh', the prime minister recalled the role of Kushok Bakula in the development of the region. He described Bakula as a great saint, teacher, patriot, a true Buddhist and a great son of India. The late Bakula had served as Indian ambassador to Mongolia. 'It is only appropriate that we name this airport, the link between the lofty Himalayas and the world below, after this son of Ladakh.'