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SOURCE: ANI

Working towards the development of villages on the northern borders, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan has directed the local Army formations to help in the rehabilitation of Nelang and Jadhang villages in Uttarakhand near the China border.

The villages were inhabited till 1962 but they moved out of there after the war with China started at that time to places in Uttarkashi and adjoining areas. The efforts to strengthen the border villages had started in the last few years as the Narendra Modi government has started the Vibrant Villages programme under which villages along the LAC from Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are being developed.

“Operation Sadbhavna has also been extended to these areas where the Army formations can also carry out activities to support the villages. As part of these, the CDS has directed the local Army units to help rehabilitate the villages of Nelang and Jadhang,” defence officials told ANI.

“The CDS gave the instructions to the local formations during a recent visit to border areas in Uttarakhand also known as the central sector along the LAC,” they said.

Development of border villages, which are also now being termed as the first villages of the country on the border.

The responsibility for the development of these villages has been given to the core team of central and state agencies including the local Army units, ITBP battalions and the civilian agencies.

The core teams are now making efforts to help the villagers come back to their villages and they have identified issues in achieving their objectives.

“The first issue is about identification of original citizens of these villages as the natives moved out in 1962 and now it is a tough task to identify the real inheritors of the land vacated by them. Many of the owners have died since then,” the officials said.

There is also a need to restart commercial activities for the natives to help them earn their livelihood from their villages only. The Army is trying to help the villages by creating tourism opportunities by developing infrastructure for them.

“The skies are very clear in this area due to zero pollution and the altitude of 13,000 feet here. Stargazing can be a popular activity here and we are trying to promote this as a tourism activity here,” an Army official said.

The attempt is also to promote the Jadh festival of the Jadhang village where the natives visit their local devatas (deities) and the Army is also trying to help them build their temples there, they said. The Army had also worked with the civilian agencies to hold the Jadh community festival last year and would be doing so this year as well.

Once commercial activities begin in the area and road connectivity is improved, the villages can be developed for tourism. The Army is also looking to take its units and establishments from the lands near the villages to forward areas to help in the rehabilitation of the Nelang village.

The villages located at around 13,000 feet altitude are seen as one of the most beautiful locations in the state of Uttarakhand and have a big tourism potential.