Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the Narendra Modi government is committed to bring all round development to the newly created Union Territory of Ladakh and abrogation of Article 370 was the right step in this direction.
The home minister said new hydro electric and solar power projects planned for Ladakh at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore will produce 7,500 MW power and will be completed in the next four years.
Shah made the comments as he launched, through video conference, a special winter-grade diesel for the high altitude region which faces sub-zero temperatures during the winter months.
"The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to bring the Leh-Ladakh region, which was neglected for the last 70 years, at par with the rest of the country," he said.
The home minister said that when the abrogation of Article 370 was announced, the prime minister had said it was a right step to accelerate development in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Article 370 gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
On August 5, the home minister had announced the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, which came into existence on October 31.
Shah said by bringing change in the status of Ladakh and enhancing the budget allocation, all-round development of the region has been ensured.
He said the newly introduced provisions of local taxation will augment Ladakh's financial resources.
Referring to a series of developmental measures taken by the Modi government in the last five years including the Srinagar-Leh transmission line for electricity, 14 solar projects for Leh and Kargil, Ladakh University, five new tourist circuits and tracks for tourists and mountaineers, Shah said the people of Ladakh, Leh and Kargil now enjoy the same rights and will be equal partners in the country's development.
He said the hydro and solar power projects to be completed in the next four years will not only bring development in the Ladakh region but will also create employment opportunities.
The winter-grade diesel launched by Shah has been produced by the Panipat Refinery of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for the first time.
It has a pour point of minus 33 degree celsius and does not lose its fluidity even in the region's extreme winter weather unlike normal grade diesel which becomes exceedingly difficult to use in sub-zero temperatures.
The home minister said the winter-grade diesel will not only smoothen travel and transportation during peak tourist season in extreme cold, but will also help in giving a boost to tourism and supply needs of the region's people, helping in overall economic growth.
Union minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Member of Parliament from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and other senior officials of the home ministry and petroleum ministry were present on the occasion.
Tour and Taxi operators and some common people of Ladakh joined the event through the video conference from Leh.
They thanked the home minister for introducing the new version of diesel that will benefit the region.
Motorists in high-altitude areas like Ladakh, Kargil, Kaza and Keylong face the problem of freezing of diesel in their vehicles when winter temperatures drop to as low as minus 30 degree celsius, an official said.
After being apprised of the difficulties in this regard, the IOCL has come up with an innovative solution to this problem by introducing a special winter-grade diesel which does not lose its fluidity even in extreme winter conditions.This winter-grade diesel also meets BIS specification of BS-VI grade and was successfully produced and certified for the first time by the Panipat Refinery on November 8.