Himachal Pradesh government has sent a team headed by the Director General of Police (DGP) SR Mardi to Lahaul and Spiti to make on the spot inspection of border areas of the district, after reports of encroachments in the border areas of the district by traders from Jammu and Kashmir.
The DGP, who visited villages near Darcha on the Shinkula pass bordering Jammu and Kashmir and near Sarchu would submit a report to the state government and would also visit Leh to sort out the dispute with the Leh administration.
The state government had sent the DGP to the tribal district after local residents and Ravi Thakur former MLA of Lahaul – Spiti had raised the issue of encroachments by traders from Kargil side in the area of roughly about 35 kms near Darcha panchayat on Shinkula pass in Himachal Pradesh .
Similarly, residents of Sarchu bordering Himachal Pradesh and Jammu- Kashmir have also complained encroachments into roughly 20 kms of Himachal area by the traders from the neighboring state.
Though the district administrations of Lahaul – Spiti and Leh have been trying to resolve the dispute in the past after skirmishes between the traders from both sides but the issue has remained unresolved in the absence of proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two states.
The issue generally crops in these months when snowbound areas after clearing of snow become alive with arrival of tourists on Manali- Leh road and traders from both states set up tents and temporary shops on the road. The travelers to Leh from Himachal Pradesh enter this tourist destination through Sarchu and travelers going towards Zanskar valley of Kargil through Darcha on the Shinkula pass. The Darcha – Kargil is alternative short route to visit Kargil and other places in Jammu – Kashmir from Himachal.
There is also a proposal to build a tunnel from Darcha to Zanskar valley of Kargil which would reduce the present distance of 350 kms to about 200 kms.
The issue of encroachment on the Shinkula pass has been raised by panchayat president of Darcha Sonam Dolma and former MLA Ravi Thakur. Talking to this correspondent Thakur said, “I have been raising this issue since Darcha is my home panchayat and tension could escalate among traders; the state government should try to settle the boundaries dispute by a survey of the area by the Surveyor General of India”.
Agriculture Minister Dr Ram Lal Markanda, who is Lahaul – Spiti MLA said, “We have sent a team headed by the DGP to take stock of the situation and has also sought help of the Government of India to resolve the boundaries issue between the two states.”
He said, “For carrying the survey some money is to be deposited with the Central government which we are depositing after which the Surveyor General of India would make a survey report to find a permanent solution to the issue.”