Cloudburst hits Leh; one killedA young Nepali boy was killed and public property was damaged when a cloudburst hit Alchinathang Yokma and Alchinathang Gongma villages, 135 km from Leh, today.
The cloudburst led to flash floods which damaged irrigation canals, bridges, roads and water supply schemes in several villages in the area. The road connectivity to Arayan valley, a famous spot in Khlasi division, was lost due to the flash floods.
Giving details, a resident of Alchinathang Gongma village, Stanzin Phunchok told Kashmir Post over phone that all roads had got damaged. “Water supply schemes have been damaged. This will create drinking water scarcity in the area. All irrigation canals too have been damaged, which will have a negative impact during the sowing season,” Phunchok said.
After the cloudburst officials of Public Works Department and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) have been pressed into the services to assess the loss and restore the road connectivity.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Khalsi, Tadper Joldan said, “Officials are on the job to ascertain the loss and bring relief to the people living in the area. Almost all departments are on the job to help people and asses the loss. The BRO has started restoring the road connectivity.”

Three missing Israeli nationals traced in LehThree Israeli nationals, including a woman, who lost contact with their embassy during trekking in Leh district, were traced by a search party of district administration and police officials late last night.
The Israeli nationals, identified as Ayelet Halael (woman), Eyal Kogat and Yirmy Sneider, had gone missing in the Markha Valley area.
Parassana Ramaswamy, Deputy Commissioner, Leh, told Kashmir Post that they got a message from the Israeli Embassy that their three nationals had lost contact with it after complaining of some health problems.
“We received a request from the Israeli Embassy that their three nationals were not being traced in Leh. We constituted a search team which successfully managed to trace them. These nationals were suffering from altitude sickness and stranded in the Markha Valley area,” the Deputy Commissioner said.
“We got information about them last night and they were brought back to Leh this afternoon,” he said.

Advani, Dy CM, inaugurate Sindhu Bhawan at LehFormer Deputy Prime Minister and Member Parliament, LK Advani along with Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh today inaugurated Sindhu Bhawan at Choglamsar, Leh.
The state of the art Bhawan, would provide all the requisite boarding and lodging facilities to the yatris coming for the Sindhu darshan festival. The festival is organized every year drawing a large number of people from different parts of the country.
Minister for Ladakh Affairs and Cooperatives- Chhering Dorje, Chief Executive Councilor, Dr. Sonam Dawa, Member of Parliament, Thupstan Chhewang were also present on the inaugural function.
Earlier on his three-day visit to Leh, Mr LK Advani was received by Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh. Others present on the reception were Minister for Ladakh Affairs and Cooperatives, Chhering Dorjai, CEC LAHDC, Dr. Sonam Dawa, Executive Councilors, Councilors, Former union minister- P Namgial, and MP Ladakh Thupstan Chhewang.

Leh residents unhappy with post office functioningCongress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Nawang Rigzin Jora today apprised Union Minister for Telecommunication and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad about the problems being faced by rural people at the main post office in Leh.
The CLP leader said that people of rural areas, who come to the Leh main post office to withdraw their money on maturity of their saving schemes, are made to wait for months by officials, who adopt delaying tactics.
Jora told the minister that the officials tell people that postal saving schemes transactions have been brought online. However, the internet does not work most of the time, the office does not have a dedicated VSAT of its own and staff is not trained for online transactions. “Due to these excuses, the poor people, who have deposited their meagre savings in the post office, are made to wait for months to withdraw their own money,” Jora said.
“The objective of digitisation, computerisation and e-enabling is to make life easier for the common man, delivery of service more efficient, transparent and accountable but all this is not happening in Leh,” Jora added.

Showing grit, four girls from Leh scale Mt EverestExhibiting indomitable spirit and grit, four young girls from Ladakh scaled Mount Everest – the highest peak in the world.
The four young girls from Leh district in the Ladakh region were part of an NCC cadet girls’ contingent of 10 members that scaled the highest peak on May 22.
It is the first time in the history of the state that four young girls from the NCC have scaled the summit. They are Stanzin Laskit of Ney, Rigzin Dolker of Nubra, Tsering Angmo of Spithuk and Tashi Laskit of Stok.
On March 9, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh had flagged off the first-ever all girls’ National Cadet Corps (NCC) Mount Everest expedition from New Delhi.
The team was led by Col Gaurav Karki along with 15 service personnel. “The girls had the world at their feet and considering dangers involved in scaling the peak, it is no less than a commendable feat by them,” said Defence Spokesperson Col SD Goswami.
Director General, NCC, Lt Gen A Chakravarty, had proposed the conduct of the first-ever NCC girls’ expedition to the Mount Everest in 2014. All India trials at 25 selected hubs were carried out and 100 girl cadets were nominated to undergo the customised mountaineering course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling, from January 7 to February 3 last year.
Based on their performance, 40 girl cadets were selected for the first pre-Everest expedition.
Pre-Everest Expedition to Mount Deo-Tibba at 19,688 feet near Manali in Himachal Pradesh was conducted for 40 cadets in April and May 2015. A total of 15 cadets were selected for the next phase based on their performance.
In August 2015, the team set off on the second pre-Everest expedition to the Mount Trishul at 23,360 feet and helped in selecting 10 girl cadets for the final Everest expedition. The culmination of pre-expedition activities was winter training at the Siachen Base Camp from January 11 to 31 this year. The training camps exposed the team to extreme cold conditions and further refined ice craft skills.
40 cadets took part in pre-Everest expedition to Mount Deo-Tibba at 19,688 feet near Manali in 2015.
15 cadets were selected for the next phase based on their performance.
10 cadets were selected for the final Everest expedition.

Avalanche hits Turtuk in Leh, Jawan goes missingA soldier is missing and another is in critical condition after an Army patrol party was hit by an avalanche in Leh’s Turtuk on Friday morning.

The Army has launched a search operation for the missing soldier.

A ‘medium danger’ avalanche warning was issued for the higher areas of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday morning and people were advised to not venture into these areas.
The advisory, issued by the Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment that comes under the ministry of defence, will remain effective for 24 hours beginning 5pm Friday.

A ‘medium danger’ avalanche warning is issued for avalanche prone areas situated at an altitude of above 3,000 metres. This includes places like Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kargil and Ganderbal districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the advisory said.

People of Srinagar, Baramulla, Leh, Kargil to get ration at old rates

Govt defers NFSA implementation in 4 districts after ration card irregularitiesThe Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) department has deferred the implementation of National Food Safety Act (NFSA) in areas, where large scale irregularities have come to the notice of the government in updation of consumer data.

Sources said ration will be provided at old rates in the districts of Srinagar, Baramulla  Leh and Kargil due to large scale irregularities in the updation of data.

As per the NFSA rates, the BPL families will get rice and atta at Rs 3 and 2 per kg per kg respectively while the old rates is of Rs 6.5 per kg for the BPL families.

“In other districts, government has directed that the benefits of subsidy shall not be passed on to the consumers, who have fraudulently managed their ration cards,” sources said.

They said the government has decided to carry out house-to-house survey through Tehsil Committees to remove the discrepancies in the updation of ration cards.

Sources said government has come across irregularities in updation process across the Valley. “Over 10 lakh bogus ration cards have been issued across the State”.

They said even former ministers and top bureaucrats have managed to the get the ration cards in the Non Priority Household (NPH) category enabling them to get the subsidized food grains.

Sources said the government has taken a serious note of the laxity shown by Director CAPD in updating the consumer data base to meet the February 15 deadline.

According to officials involved in the updation process in districts of Srinagar, Baramulla and Ladakah region, the number of ration card holders will exceed the census population of 1.25 crore in the state.

“The data base is replete with errors with multiple entries. People, who should have figured in the exclusion category, have managed to get the NPH ration cards. The irregularities have marred the entire process to create a transparent food distribution mechanism,” they said.

Officials said the irregularities are there despite the fact that government had hired private vendors to create a digital record of the ration cards with Rs 8 being paid for working out the computerized record of each new ration card and Rs 5 for the old card holders.

Sources said in view of the irregularities, only 2.9 lakh people figure in the exclusion category  against the target of 6.5 lakhs.

“The government had earlier issued an order that the gazetted cadre officers and those holding constitutional positions and in possession of large land holdings will figure in the exclusion category. However many people have managed to fraudulently get the ration cards,” they said.

Former CAPD Minister, Chaudhary Zulfikar, said the government was implementing the NFSA act in the haste.

“If we come back to power, we will ensure that ration scale of the families is increased,” he said.

Joint Director CAPD Kashmir, Mohammad Qasim Wani, said people, who have figured in the ration cards in violation of norms, will be deleted from the data base.

“We plan to display the list of ration card holders in different areas to remove any fraudulent entries,” he said.

Leh holds Dosmochey fairThe two-day Dosmochey mela concluded at Leh today.
During the festival, the market was abuzz with activity and people took part in various games during the fair.
Every year, the day is celebrated on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. This year, the famous ‘chams’ (mask dance) was performed in the courtyard of Chowkhang Vihara or Gompa Soma. ‘Dhos’ was prepared by the monks of the Takthok monastery and ‘storma’ by the monks of the Diskit monastery. The mask dance was performed by the monks of the Hanley monastery.
Later, the ‘storma’ is burned that symbolises driving away of the evil spirits.

IAF to vacate Leh airbase for civilian airportThe Indian Air Force (IAF) has agreed to vacate the airbase at Leh district which will be used for expansion of the civilian airport by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

This was stated at a meeting held by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, with the officials of IAF, Airport Authority of India Limited (AII) and civil administration at his office here on Thursday, an official spokesman said.

Samoon was informed that the state government has identified land in lieu of the existing IAF airbase in Leh.

Similarly, the district officials of Kargil informed Samoon that in exchange for an alternate site, the Army has agreed to vacate a large tract of land presently under its control, which will be used for the expansion of the town.

The IAF officials, who attended the meeting, said the alternate site offered by the state government in Leh has been examined by experts and they are ready to take over if the state government finalises the deal.

The Divisional Commissioner was also informed that the modalities are being worked out to shift the existing airbase in Leh to Airport Authority of India which will expand it for civilian purposes.

Samoon said the paperwork to finalise the deals should be done on priority so that it is transferred to the civil government by the end of February.

The Divisional Commissioner said the administration will transfer the airbases to the Airport Authority of India for development.

He said that the transfer agreements should be taken up on priority to fully exploit the huge tourism potential of Leh and Kargil which in turn would generate much needed employment opportunities for local youth.

Meanwhile, the Divisional Commissioner also directed the Airport Authority of India to ensure proper sanitation at the Srinagar airport so that it does not become a breeding ground for dogs and birds, which can pose a threat to the safety of air passengers, besides local population.

Samoon also directed the Airport Authority of India to explore the modalities for starting night operations at the Srinagar airport.

The Air Force officials informed Samoon that they have already given in writing that they have no issues if the airport hosts flights during night.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioner Budgam Mir Altaf Ahmad, Senior Manager Airport Authority of India Manjeet Singh, Air Commodore AOC 21 wing, AOC Srinagar and other officers of civil administration and Air Force.

IAF seeks alternative land before vacating 11.8 acre identified for project

Leh airport expansion caught in admn tangleThe expansion of strategically-important Leh airport, one of the world’s highest airfields, has failed to clear administrative hurdles, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) insisting on alternative land before vacating the area identified for the project.
The expansion of the Leh airport, located 10,683 feet above the sea level, includes construction of new terminal building to cater to peak-hour passenger rush and creation of new parking bays.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has requisitioned 11.8 acre of land for the purpose.
Once the expansion is completed, the upgraded infrastructure will cater to around 600 passengers at a time while the bay capacity will increase from the existing two to five.
“The project has been hanging in balance for the last four years. The land identified for the expansion project belongs to the state government, but it is currently under the physical possession of the IAF. We have taken up the matter with the IAF authorities but they are asking for an alternate place to shift its utilities before vacating the identified area,” Sonam Nurboo, Director, Leh airport, told KP over phone.
The Director said the existing infrastructure at the Leh airport, known as the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, can cater to just 100 incoming and 100 outgoing passengers.
“After the expansion, we will be able to cater to around 600 passengers at a time. Besides, there are presently only two aircraft bays, it will go up to five after the infrastructure is upgraded,” said Nurboo.
Pertinently, Leh airport belongs to the IAF, Ministry of Defence, while the AAI maintains a civil enclave for operations.
In summer, seven flights operate between Delhi and Leh every day, while there are two flights from Jammu (on Monday and Friday) and one from Srinagar (on Wednesday) in a week.
In winters, this number comes down to just three or four flights a day.
Air travel is the only mode of transport to the region during winter and the cost of one-way air ticket from Leh to Delhi goes up to Rs 25,000 per person in the season.
The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, which governs the district politically, has already taken up the matter with the Centre and the Civil Aviation Ministry has been requested to slash the air fare and increase the frequency of flights to Ladakh.
Two vital roads, the 434-km-long Srinagar-Kargil-Leh highway and 474-km-long Manali-Leh highway, to Ladakh remain closed for nearly six months during the winter.