India and China are likely to hold the 14th round of corps commander-level talks on January 12 with a focus on making some forward movement in the disengagement process in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the development said on Friday.
The talks are expected to take place at the Chushul border point on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, they said.
The Indian side is expected to press for disengagement as soon as possible in all the remaining friction points including resolution of issues in Depsang Bulge and Demchok.
The 13th round of talks had taken place on October 10 last year and had ended in a stalemate.
Both sides failed to make any headway in the talks with the Indian Army saying after the dialogue that the “constructive suggestions” made by it were not agreeable to the Chinese side, which also could not provide any “forward-looking” proposals.
In their virtual diplomatic talks on November 18, India and China agreed to hold the 14th round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement in remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
It is learnt that the Indian side had sent at least two proposals for the 14th round of talks in the last two months but the Chinese side was not responding to them positively so far.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.
Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector.
Ladakh gets first open synthetic track and football turf
Ladakh sportspersons are upbeat as the union territory has got its first open synthetic track and football turf for football stadium under Khelo India Programme. Built at an estimated cost of Rs 10.68 crore, the size of the track and football turf has been constructed on 130 kanals in the Spituk belt of the ‘cold desert’.
“I’m a coach for marathon runners here. Before this, we had to run on roads. Now, we’re witnessing improvement because we can now measure distance & speed easily.
Then Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday laid the foundation stones of the synthetic track and astroturf for football in September 2020.
Taking to the microblogging site, Rijiju, who currently holds the portfolio of Minister of Law and Justice, wrote, ” Very satisfying to see the completion of sports projects in Ladakh in less than just two years despite the pandemic! PM Modi gave a clear direction to execute all the projects on time. These are funded under the Khelo India Scheme”.
Last week, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur took to Twitter to share the picture of the football stadium and wrote, “This is NEW INDIA–Funded as part of Khelo India sports infrastructure; Open Stadium at Spituk, Leh, and Height 11,000 feet approx”.
MHA classifies J&K, Ladakh UTs as ‘hard areas’ in joint AGMUT cadre
The Government of India has classified Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh Union Territories as “hard areas” in the joint AGMUT cadre.
As per the news agency, the Ministry of Home Affairs in a communique has informed all states and UTs- part of the AGMUT cadre- that J&K and Ladakh UTs have been categorized as hard areas in the joint AGMUT cadre.
“Consequent upon the merger of J&K cadre in AGMUT cadre, the matter has been examined, and with the approval of the competent authority, it has been decided that Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh may be considered as hard areas in joint AGMUT cadre,” reads the letter.
As per guidelines governing transfer and postings of AGMUT cadre, IAS, IPS and IFS officers, the states and UTs are classified into categories- regular areas and hard areas.
Delhi, Chandigarh, Goa, Pudducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu are regular areas. At the same time, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been classified as hard areas.
It is worth mentioning that J&K had its separate cadre for IAS, IPS, and IFS before abrogating Article 370. However, in January 2020, the Centre promulgated an ordinance to merge the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre of All India Services officers such as the IAS, IPS and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS) with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.
Ladakh admin sets up facility for online tickets for Kargil air service
In a first, the Ladakh administration has set up the online booking of tickets for air services run by the Indian Air Force in the Union territory, officials said on Wednesday.
The administration flagged off the operation of subsidised helicopter service from Ladakh. The service will cater to passengers from far-flung areas of Ladakh on approved routes from Leh-Lingshed, Dibling, Drass, Padum, Kargil, Nubra, Nerak, Jammu, Srinagar, they said.
“This year, for the first time, tickets of AN-32 Kargil courier service have been made available online,” a senior said.
This facility has been introduced for the convenience of the passengers so that they can book their tickets, from the comfort of their homes, keeping in view the Covid situation, he said.
The passengers can log on to the website http://heliservice.ladakh.gov.in/airforce-plane-booking The first flight has been planned on Thursday for the sector Kargil-Jammu-Kargil, subject to fair weather, officials said.
Initially, on a trial basis, booking is available for January 20, and subsequently, the other flights will also be available, they said.
The land of high passes, Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is the highest plateau of the subcontinent and is famous for its scenic beauty.
“You will face the cold desert climate, especially from October-March. In winters, temperatures are extreme in Leh, dipping below freezing point. It remains closed for more than seven months,” officials said.
During winters, roads in the entire region remain cut off from the rest of the country. Winters in Ladakh are very harsh and temperatures can plummet to -30 degrees Celsius at night, they said.
Our aim is to meet air connectivity requirements to promote tourism for economic development and employment generation, rescue and medical evacuation purposes, they added.
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