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Kargil wants to fly Kingfisher

india Updated: Apr 02, 2010 16:29 IST
Arun Joshi

The land, where the Indian Army had written a new chapter in the mountainous warfare in 1999 when it pushed back Pakistani intruders from the trans-Himalayan heights, remains cut off from rest of the world for six months due to the closure of Zojilla pass due to heavy snowfall.

As a result the people of Kargil remain stranded for this long period.

" I have written to the civil aviation ministry for starting flights to Kargil. But there has been no positive response so far," said Minister for Transport and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Qamar Ali Akhoon.

He is now planning to approach the private airlines, and his preference is Vijay Mallaya's Kingfisher airlines, "they have small aircraft and they are comfortable as well," Akhoon, who represents Kargil Assembly constituency, told Hindustan Times.

While Leh is having connectivity with the rest of the world through flights, Indian Airlines and even the private airlines like Kingfisher, Jet Airways, Kargil is not having that facility.

"The start of the air services to Kargil is important for our people. They would be able to travel in and out of Kargil and at the same time, it would help Kargil to figure on the tourism map," Akhoon said.

Kargil is having the landmarks of the 1999 war- Tiger Hill, Drass, Battalik and it is blessed with the beauty of Drass, Suru Rivers and is also home to many glaciers, mostly in Zanskar area.

It would also be beneficial to the soldiers in Kargil, who defend the mountainous heights round the year, where temperatures dip to minus 40 degree Celsius during winters.

After the 1999 war, as a part of its military strategy, the Indian Army had set up a new corps- 14 corps. The troops are now stationed in the posts for all the 12 months.

While the people and leaders of Kargil are pressing for air services. They are also asking the Centre to start work on Zojilla tunnel that connects the Kashmir Valley to Ladakh region.

" Prime Minister has promised to get the final feasibility report of (zojilla) tunnel ready by October-end. He made this promise in a letter to me, after I wrote to him requesting for the tunnel," Akhoon said.

Border Roads Organisation that maintains 410- km Srinagar-Leh highway has already started working on it.

Zojilla located at the height of 11,000 feet above sea level is snowbound for six months. It experiences 10 to 20 feet during winters.

" We are hopeful that the work would start once the easibility report is ready," Akhoon said. He, like all his constituency people, is keeping fingers crossed.

He felt that Rohtang tunnel on which the work is going on would be of no help to Kargiil, while Zojilla would be beneficial to both the Leh and Kargil districts. " Despite the ttunnel at Rohtang pass, the Leh-Manali road would not stay open for the whole year as there are stretches on the road, which would continue to be traffic unworthy."