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Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Leh on Tuesday on his maiden visit during which he will inaugurate two hydro-power projects and lay the foundation stone for the 349-km Leh-Srinagar transmission line.
He was received at the airport by Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra, state chief minister Omar Abdullah, Army Chief General DS Suhag and other senior officials.
The Prime Minister is accompanied by Union power minister Piyush Goyal and national security adviser Ajit Doval.
Modi's visit to the two high-altitude Himalayan towns - his second to Jammu and Kashmir after assuming office - is expected to touch on demands of locals in Leh and Kargil including employment generation and an assurance to take up with China and Pakistan respectively the issue of opening of Mansarovar road from Leh and re-opening of Kargil-Skardu road.
The Prime Minister will also address public meetings at Leh and Kargil. Leh town is all decked up to welcome the Prime Minister with hoardings been erected at various places and BJP's Lotus flag seen prominently at various traffic intersections.
BJP bagged the Ladakh parliamentary constituency for the first time this year when its candidate Thupstan Chhewang won the seat by a slender margin of 36 votes.Chief executive councillor of Ladakh Hill Development Council Rigzin Spalbar told PTI that the people of Ladakh had high expectations from the Prime Minister's visit.
"I hope the BJP lives up to its promise of granting Union Territory status to the region," he said.
Spalbar, who has been raising various issues about the difficulties faced by people of this region, said he would also flag the frequent incursion bids by Chinese and attempts to terrorise the local population living along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). The Prime Minister, after his arrival in Leh, will be addressing the airmen and army men who have been guarding the border in harsh winters in high altitude areas including at the world's highest battlefield at Siachen glacier. Temperatures in the Ladakh region dip to minus 30 to 40 degrees in peak winter.
The new Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived in Leh on Monday to firm up arrangements for the VVIP visit. The jawans of ITBP have been pressed into service for securing all the venues.
BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Avinash Rai Khanna (Rajya Sabha MP who looks after Jammu and Kashmir) are already in Leh and were seen working out last minute preparations for a public rally at the Polo Ground where Modi will dedicate to the nation 45 MW Nimoo Bazgo Hydroelectric Project.
After this the Prime Minister will fly to Kargil town where he will hold a public rally and dedicate to nation the 44 MW Chutak Power station and lay foundation stone for 349-km power transmission line linking Leh-Kargil-Srinagar. This is the second visit of Modi to the state after becoming the Prime Minister and his visit to the Himalayan town is seen as a thanksgiving gesture to the people for voting the BJP candidate to victory.
BJP will be trying hard to win at least a couple of assembly seats from Ladakh parliamentary constituency which sends four MLAs to the state assembly. The elections for the state assembly are due towards the end of this year. People in Kargil are hoping that the Prime Minister will address some of their long pending demands like construction of the Zojjila Tunnel, Airport, opening of Kargil Skardu Road and establishing High Altitude Sports Authority of India Campus for Sports like Ice Hockey.
A National Adventure School and a Doordarshan kendra in Kargil and employment avenues for youths in Army and Para Military Forces are among other demands. The two projects which have already started generation are expected to solve a lot of power woes of the border state but only after the transmission line from Leh to Srinagar is completed.