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Antony visits Ladakh border area near China

Leh, June 22 (Calcutta Tube) A.K. Antony Tuesday became the first Indian defence minister to land at the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Nyoma, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the defacto border with China in the strategic Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The defence minister flew in an IAF Mi-17 helicopter to land at Nyoma, at an altitude of 13,300 feet, which was opened for fixed wing aircraft Sep 18 last year when an AN-32 landed for the first time at the compacted airstrip.

The Nyoma ALG was developed to connect the remote areas of Ladakh to the mainland during the harsh winter, besides enabling the communication network in the region, facilitating economical ferrying of supplies as well as promotion of tourism to the general area.

Antony also also visited the Siachen base camp for a first-hand experience of the progress made to improve the living and operational requirements of the forces since his last visit in May 2007, defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

‘He spoke to a number of men and officers of the army and air force and sought their frank views on the situation. Many jawans (soldiers) expressed their gratitude to the defence minister for substantially improving the quality of rations for those deployed in high-altitude areas,’ Kar said.

Antony had a chance meeting with a group of soldiers who had just returned from their deployment in the high-altitude areas.

He offered them farm-fresh fruits and vegetables which he was carrying from the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) in Leh.

During the discussions, the soldiers wanted that the quality of some of the accessories, such as socks, should be improved and also sought more snow-mobiles for their operational requirements. Among their other demands was a reduction of telephone call rates to facilitate communication with their families.

Antony assured that early action will be taken on all the issues raised by them, said the defence ministry spokesperson.

Antony returned to New Delhi Tuesday evening after a two-day trip to Ladakh. He was accompanied by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and other senior officials of the ministry, the army and the air force based at Leh.

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