Kargil, the cold desert region of Jammu and Kashmir where Indian and Pakistani armies fought a war in the summer of 1999, will now have a major irrigation project.
India's Ministry of Water Resources has approved the Parkachick Khawas Canal Project in Kargil district to provide irrigation facilities at a cost of Rs 350 million in one of the biggest initiatives to transform the economy of the backward region, which remains closed for almost six months a year.
"This is for the first time that the Kargil district has got such a major project, which on completion will provide irrigation facilities to a cultivable command area of 5,587 acres," said KL Dhar, a spokesman for the Union Minister for Water esources Saif-ud-Din Soz.
Soz, who is from Jammu and Kashmir, has been showing keen interest in the development of the state. He has already mooted a navigation plan though the Jhelum river in the Kashmir Valley.
"The Parkachick canal project envisages the construction of a lined canal with a trapezoidal section, stone masonry channel, cut and cover type channel in different spots and a tunnel of 900 metres. The total length of the canal would be 18 km and distribution system would be 1.5 km."
"The canal has been designed to draw its maximum required discharge of 150.09 cusecs from the right bank of river Suru. The project will irrigate 100 per cent of the command area of 5,587 acres in Tai Suru block of Kargil district," Dhar said.
"Soz has expressed satisfaction that this project will contribute substantially to the overall development of this backward region of the state and help uplift its economy," he added.
A similar project, the Igo-Phey Medium Irrigation Project, was sanctioned for Leh district of Ladakh and is nearing completion. Soz said that the state government has been asked to propose another project for augmenting the irrigation potential in Leh district.