Leh (Ladakh): In a big boost to India’s renewed efforts to develop infrastructure at its borders, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on October 21 opened the strategically crucial Col Chewang Rinchen Setu in Eastern Ladakh bordering China.
The Defence Minister while inaugurating the bridge ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’, stressed that Border area development is an integral part of the Government’s plan, and the strategically important bridge is a part of that strategy.
He reiterated the Government’s unwavering commitment to bolster border infrastructure to effectively deal with any threats that undermine the peace and tranquility in the country.
Describing ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’ as a symbol of the Government’s resolve of positive change and all-round development of the nation, he said, the bridge not only connects Durbuk with Daulat Beg Oldie but also links the people of Ladakh and all interior areas of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country, an official statement said.
“Through initiatives like these, the people of this region will have the opportunity to become part of India’s growth story”, the Minister hoped.
The bridge is named after Col Chewang Rinchen, who was born on November 11, 1931 at Sumur, Nubra Valley in Ladakh region and is known as the “Lion of Ladakh” for his extraordinary acts of courage in defending Leh and Partapur sector. It is built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) over River Shyok and connects Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie in Eastern Ladakh.
Hailing BRO as an ‘inspirational and disciplined force’, the Minister lauded it for playing a leading role in the infrastructure development in far-flung areas in extremely tough and inhospitable terrain.
Speaking about India China relation, the Minister said, “India shares cordial relations with China. There are perceptional differences between both the countries on the boundary issue but the issue has been handled with great maturity and responsibly. Both the countries have not allowed the situation to escalate or go out of hand.”
The Minister added, “Kashmir is India’s internal and integral matter. Even the Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping did not mention Kashmir in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mahabalipuram. China’s recent statement for action against terror is also significant.”
With the decision to make Ladakh a separate Union Territory, the Government has fulfilled the long-pending demand of the people, which will open new doors of development in the region, Rajnath Singh said.
“Like the rest of the country, Ladakh will now become a destination for investment. There will also be a boost in revenue generation and employment opportunities for local people”, he added.
He said, abrogation of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, will put an end to terrorism and separatism which, since independence, has led to the killing of thousands of innocent people. Adding that the decision will strengthen human rights and help in empowering women of the area.
Stating that BRO is utilising over Rs 900 crore for the development of Ladakh, the Defence Minister expressed confidence that the region will soon become a hub for not only domestic but foreign tourists as well. He complimented the organisation for constructing 1,200 kms of roads in financial year 2018-19.
He paid tribute to Col Chewang Rinchen, saying that his courage and valour is a source of inspiration to one and all. He also felicitated Dr Phunsog Angmo, daughter of Col Rinchen, for the contribution made by her father in the service of the nation.
Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, DG BRO Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Ladakh Member of Parliament Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and other senior officers of Army, BRO and Ministry of Defence were present on the occasion.
Sandwiched between strategic Karakoram and Chang Chenmo ranges, the ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’ is a 430-metre bridge built at an altitude of about 15,000 feet using Micro Piling Technology. The construction has been completed in record time within 15 months.