Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, on Sunday directed Army formations to aid in the rehabilitation of border villages along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Uttarakhand, specifically targeting Nelang and Jadung near the China border.
These villages were evacuated by residents during the 1962 war, relocating to safer areas in Uttarkashi and nearby regions.
The Indian government’s initiative to foster vibrant villages along the China border aligns with this effort. Under ‘Operation Sadbhavana’, the Indian Army is actively engaged in border area development.
During a recent inspection of the central sector of the LAC, General Chauhan urged local formations to assist in rehabilitating these villages, now considered the first settlements from the border.
“During a recent visit to the forward areas of the central sector of the LAC to Joshimath, the Chief of Defence Staff asked the local formations to help in the rehabilitation of these villages, which are now also called the first villages of the border,” Army officials told India Today.
Army units, alongside ITBP personnel and civilian authorities, are facilitating the return of villagers.
However, a primary issue arises from the fact that villagers moved out in 1962, making it a daunting task to identify the true heirs of the land left vacant, considering the passage of over 60 years and the death of many original landowners.
Additionally, there is a crucial need to revitalise commercial activities for the local population, enabling them to sustain their livelihoods within their villages.
To support the villages, the Army is exploring tourism opportunities by enhancing infrastructure.
“The skies are very clear in this area due to zero pollution and the altitude of 13,000 feet. Stargazing can be a popular activity here and we are trying to promote this as a tourism activity here,” an Army official said.
Attempts are also underway to promote the Jadh festival in Jadhang village, with plans to assist in constructing local temples.
Once the commercial activities begin in the area, the villages accessible from the renowned tourist destination of Harsil can be transformed into sought-after destinations for bikers and drivers.
The officials feel that the Jadung village should be developed on priority followed by the Nelang village as it involves relocating military infrastructure to advance positions, contributing to the overall forward development of the area.