November 2005 News

Mines Cleared To Open Fourth LoC Crossing

10 November 2005
Agence France-Presse

Tulawari: Indian soldiers are racing to widen roads and build bridges in time for the planned November 16 opening of another crossing across the militarised frontier in Jammu and Kashmir to allow relief aid to reach earthquake survivors. As an interim measure, mines have been cleared from tracks to allow mules to deliver relief materials to the Line of Control (LoC). 'We have constructed a mule track right up to the last point of the LoC,' said army officer S Bhardwaj in the frontier village of Tulawari, as soldiers used dynamite to blast sections of the rugged terrain for road construction. 'We are widening this road to make it motorable right up to the Hatlanga Nallah (stream),' said army spokesman Vijay Batra, referring to the intended crossing point that joins Uri district on the Indian side with Hajipir in the Pakistani zone of Kashmir. 'The mule track is operational. We have laid four small bridges over the stream and when both sides announce the date to open it, we will be able to hand over (supplies) to Pakistanis at the LoC,' said Batra. Both sides have agreed to pitch three to four tents at the transit point to be utilised by civil officials, customs and police for documentation and handing over of relief material. India will also lay a vehicular bridge over the stream at the crossing point once it completes the final stretch of about a kilometer of road up to the LoC, Batra said, adding that the Pakistanis are also preparing a road. 'Both sides are in a state of preparedness,' he said, adding that some 100 mules and ponies from Silikot, the last motorable point, will carry 30 to 40 tonnes of relief per day if and when the point is opened. The neighbours on Monday opened a point at the LoC in southern Poonch district of India but only relief supplies were sent to Pakistan. A point further north, at Kaman Post, was opened yesterday and a third, at Tithwal, is due to start operating on Saturday. Another point linking Tattapani in Pakistan with Mendhar in India will be operational from November 14 while the Uri-Hajipir crossing is due to open on November 16, the external affairs ministry announced yesterday. For Kashmiris in Tulawari village, right on the LoC, that day can't come quickly enough. 'It is music to the ears that the two countries have agreed to open these relief points,' said student Gulshan Ara, washing clothes near a stream in the village. 'I'd like to meet my uncle. But I am told we require permission. I hope both the governments clear the formalities as soon as possible. I have not met him ever and want to see him,' Ara said at the village 134km northwest of Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.


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