Indian village in Ladakh bordering China needs basic services

LEH—Dorjee Dadul, 54, is a resident of Mann, one of the most beautiful villages in Ladakh on the border between India and China, on the shores of the iconic Lake Pangonzo.

Far from the hustle and bustle of crowds, markets and the city, Mann, home to 28 households, offers some of the most beautiful homestay facilities to Indian tourists during the four months that the region remains open. However, its inhabitants are struggling for the basic daily necessities that most human civilizations would otherwise be dysfunctional. Residents of this region, located in strategically sensitive areas, believe that the government should pay more attention to their needs.

“In our village, we have water problems, power problems, even internet connections are problems. No internet connections are available. All schools are closed due to COVID. To work online Needs internet, but no connection, “said Dadur, the grandfather of four young children.

On June 22, when the Epoch Times drove to Mann village, a few miles away from the tourist camp base in Lukun, the starting point of Pangonzo, India, the route followed a high cliff road under construction in many places. I proceeded. , It ran parallel to the lake on one side and on the high snow-covered peaks on the other side.

“Road construction has turbid the flow of fresh water and makes it no longer drinkable. Road construction has also destroyed the water pipes that supply water to Mann village,” covering 12 border villages, including Mann. Kunchok Stanjin, a counselor of Chushur, who is a broader member, said.

According to the currently depleted Stanjin, households in Mann village have five community water stations.

Pangong Tso is a brackish lake 83.5 miles long, more than half of which is in China. Some of the roads have been militarized, which became news last year due to the fierce accumulation of military forces on both sides. The village of Mann is on one side of Pangonzo, while the other bank has an Indian military base.

There are other tourist camps on the way back from Mann to Lukun. Some were open, some were in ruins, and some were closed. Camping is a special livelihood for locals who have survived for centuries by growing barley, mustard and vegetables, and raising sheep, goats and yaks.

Epoch Times Photo
Road construction materials site between Lakun and Mann villages, June 22, 2021. India has accelerated the development of infrastructure on Ladakh’s border with China over the past few years. (Venus Upadayaya / Epoch Times)

Land for tourism camps has been approved by the Ladakh Autonomous Mountain Development Council, an elected council that decentralizes the planning process with the involvement of the Ladakh grassroots community, to 110 households in Man Pangong B Panchayat. The council also provided an initial investment to set up a campsite. However, the council is struggling to resolve some of the other related issues.

On June 22nd, a restaurant serving tourists in Lucun set up a bulletin board. discuss. Pretend to be 1995. However, there was no power supply at the tourist base, and the hot water was luxurious. Most camps power diesel generators for three hours at night. If a generator breaks down, it is not easy to repair because the market and mechanics are far away.

“Pangong Tso has become a popular tourist attraction after the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots. [was shot on its banks].. Prior to that, only 10-12 vehicles came here every day. And Lucun.

Tundup, 36, runs a tourist camp and restaurant in Lukung. He told The Epoch Times that the main issue in the region was “communication and electricity.”

“We don’t have much water problems [in Phobrang].. Villagers drink water from streams and streams that flow through our village. Light (electricity) and communications are the main issues, “said Tundup, who says that the harsh living conditions of the highlands across the Himalayas are real, but locals are accustomed to them.

As the Epoch Times passed through the residential village of Foblanc in Tandup, the girl pumped water from a snow-covered stream and directed it to a small drainage channel across the courtyard of a small stone house. The young child cycled on a winding tar road. Through the house.

“All these roads have been built so far. We are very pleased with it. When we were young, horses were the only way to get from Leh to Pangonzo. At least so far now. The vehicle is coming, “says Tundup.

According to Stanjin, the main issues in the region will continue to be communications connectivity, infrastructure development, access to educational facilities, medical care and sports.

“When someone gets seriously ill, we have to take him to Leh,” he added. The best motor road pass, the Chanla Pass, is over 16,800 feet above sea level and takes about 6 hours.

Regarding the government’s supply of freshwater to all households, Mr. Stanjin recently talked with the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh (Union Territory) and under the Jarjiban mission of India, the flagship of the Government of India to provide tap water connections. He said he guaranteed the program. For all households, all remote border villages in Ladakh will be covered by 2024.

According to Tandap, the batteries in the solar lights provided to the village of Foblanc are more than eight years old and need to be replaced. “The battery hasn’t worked since a couple of months. I’m using a small emergency light. I’ve notified the authorities.”

Stanjin Solar cell said The villages of Lukung and Spangmik were exchanged on June 3, and authorities recently installed a 10KWh solar power plant. Housing school In Sato. Village on July 5th.

Epoch Times Photo
Tampatashi, 13, on his way to Pangonzo on June 23, 2021, grabs a pashmina goat in the alpine meadows of Ladakh. (Venus Upadayaya / Epoch Times)

Walk long distances for the internet

Tampatashi, 13, grazes his family’s pashmina goat in the Himalayan crossing valley of Changtang, Ladakh, while the school remains closed due to a pandemic. Tashi also regularly walks a few miles from his village, Muglip, to another village, Tangtse, to gain internet access for online classes.

Mobile connectivity infrastructure Established last year for rural areas Of Ladakh below Universal Service Obligation Fund, The contract was given to Indian telecommunications giant Geo. Under this contract, Geo installed 54 towers around Ladakh.

Areas adjacent to Leh’s capital and towns of other nodes have access to 4G coverage and high-speed internet through several telecommunications service providers, but the wider areas of the area, including remote border residents, have been cut off. It remains.

Stanjin said 50 more towers would need to be set up around the rural areas to provide Internet access to everyone.

For Tashi, walking long distances to graze expensive goats in the family is a natural way of life, so walking to another village for online school lessons may not seem difficult. It may be, but for young children and children in very remote areas, the method has changed. How parents schedule their day is highly dependent on their child’s needs.

Dadul laments the difficulties families have to endure to regularly bring their two school grandchildren to the Panchayati office (village council office) to access the internet and attend online classes. I will.

“Most of the kids here go to school. For 1.5 years we have been blocked. If the kids don’t have access to the internet, they can’t know anything. We’re at Panchayat’s house. I’m running Wifi on the internet. Sometimes Wifi doesn’t work. We have to take our kids to Leh, “said Tsundup, the father of two daughters. One is in 8th grade and the other is in 10th grade.

According to him, all seniors from border villages must move to Leh to study in such situations.

Epoch Times Photo
Children walk towards the Man Pangong-B Panchayat (village council) office to access the Internet on June 23, 2021. (Venus Upadayaya / Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Children walk towards the Man Pangong-B Panchayat (village council) office to access the Internet on June 23, 2021. (Venus Upadayaya / Epoch Times)

The Epoch Times witnessed three young children arriving at the Pangon B Panchayat office for the Internet, walking about eight miles along the roadside while driving from Urugu to Lukun.

Tundup said it’s difficult for children, unlike other markets in the world. Here, children have to carry water, food, books and walk miles to attend high-altitude online classes.

“During the conflict between India and China in 2020, we worked for 4-5-6 months, giving horses and labor to the Indian army. Now the administration should listen to our problems. “Tandup said.

Mr Stanjin said the situation in border villages across the Himalayas is unique and the Indian government should expand telecommunications connections in the region under a defense budget.

“The government should pay special attention to border areas.”

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