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Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Envisioning Ladakh’s future as UT

Ladakh has the potential to become the biggest centre of Spiritual Tourism, Adventure Tourism, and Ecotourism. Post abrogation of Article 370, there will be a proper use of its potential and new opportunities will be created for development without discrimination.
By IASToppers
August 19, 2019

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Reasons to make Ladakh a UT
  • Potential consequences of Ladakh being a UT
  • IT’s Input
    • Difference between State and Union Territory (UT)
  • Key Facts
  • Conclusion

Envisioning Ladakh’s future as UT

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

Introduction

  • In the sudden abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)’s special constitutional status, the simultaneous transformation of Ladakh into a Union Territory (UT) has not received much attention.
  • One of the Ladakh’s Member of Parliament said that Ladakhis had been demanding UT status for the region for many decades. Achieving it will enable the region to achieve its full development potential.

Reasons to make Ladakh a UT

  • A substantial part of Ladakh (specifically, Leh district) has felt alienated for decades as it was controlled by the J&K government.
  • It has been noted that from decades, the J&K government has often been insensitive to the Ladakh’s ecological and cultural uniqueness.
  • Ladakh was in difficult condition due to the pressure being put by the infrastructure projects, the presence of armed forces and excessive tourism.
  • inappropriate educational systems imposed on the people of Ladakh have disrupted the lifestyles of their traditional ethnic groups.
  • Division of Ladakh into Leh and Kargil on religious ground has driven an unnecessarily division between Buddhist and Muslim populations.

Potential consequences of Ladakh being a UT

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Pressure on ecology

  • Being home to enormous mineral reserves and tourism sites, Ladakh could easily exploited by commercial interests even more.
  • This would put a greater pressure on its already fragile ecosystem and also impact its pastoral and agricultural communities that are dependent on it.
  • Also, Ladakh is facing environmental issues due to landslips, soil erosion, accumulation of solid waste, disturbances to its wildlife population and diversion of commons for development projects.

Developmental projects

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  • The Central government could execute more hydropower, mining and road construction programmes in Ladakh, making sensitive areas more vulnerable.
  • Since the Leh is a huge tourism attraction, more plans will be there to promote and protect the local culture at development works.
  • The government may provide ‘Smart city’ tag to Leh city under Smart City Mission as Leh is a huge tourism attraction.

Armed Forces

  • The increased presence of the armed forces could be one of the consequences of Ladakh being a UT.
  • Due to the high importance given to the threats coming from China and Pakistan, the likelihood of more army personal getting stationed in Ladakh is high.
  • Thousands of hectares of pasture land have already been occupied by the forces with disruptive consequences for wildlife and local communities.

Ladakh’s various societies

  • There are many civil society groups in Ladakh such as the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh, the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, The Ladakh Ecological Development Group etc.
  • However, as the central government will now handle the Ladakh, the voices of such societies are likely to be heard even less.

Improved livelihood

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  • The people of Ladakh live in climatic conditions where there is no mobile network, or no access to basic healthcare and no options for higher education in today’s modern time.
  • All these situations are because of no development as the consequences of the Article 370.
  • These factors backed strongly behind the demand as a Union territory of Ladakh.

Administration

  • Before scrapping Article 370, Ladakh had representatives in the J&K legislative assembly.
  • Now, as Ladakh is coming directly under central government, there will be no legislators from the entire region.
  • However, Ladakh has Ladakh Autonomous Development Council making Ladakh the first Union territory to have this.
  • The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh was created following demands of Ladakhi people to make Leh District a new Indian UT because of its religious and cultural differences with the rest of J&K.
  • This council has the power to manage all of its land including power for expenditure, funding, management of land.

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IT’s Input

Difference between State and Union Territory (UT)

Administration:

  • State: Administered by Chief minister
  • UT: Administrator appointed by President

Executive head:

  • State: Governor as executive head
  • UT: President as executive head

Legislative Assembly

  • State: Mandatorily to have Legislative Assembly
  • UT: Not mandatory to have a Legislative Assembly, however there is a provision that allows setting up Legislative Assembly in UT in the case of Puducherry, Delhi and now in Jammu & Kashmir. Other 5 UTs in India do not have Legislative Assembly.

Distribution of Power:

  • States: Powers divided between states and center
  • UT: Power is in the hands of the center

Key Facts

  • According to Article 240, the President of India has the power to make regulations for UTs not having their own legislature. This will be applicable in the case of Ladakh.

Conclusion

  • As there are some consequences comes up with the new status of the region, it can be seen that there are more development possibilities in terms of education, health, lifestyle, preservation of its unique ecology of Ladakh as Union Territory, compare to its current status.

 

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