Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday announced that the Siachen area in Ladakh was open to tourists. The announcement came more than two months after the Centre’s August 5 order revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. The government also split the state into the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“Ladakh has tremendous potential in tourism,” Singh tweeted during his visit to Ladakh. “Better connectivity in Ladakh would certainly bring tourists in large numbers. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for tourism purposes.”

The minister made the announcement during the inauguration of the Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge over the Shyok river. It will link Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldi – both in Leh district, and cut down travel time by half.

He said the decision was taken to showcase the tough work done by Indian Army soldiers and engineers, who battle extreme weather and rough terrain. Sweat and valour”, apart from steel and concrete, went into the making of the bridge, he added.

The Siachen Glacier is situated at an altitude of 5,400 metres above sea level, and is part of the Karakoram Range.

In early August, ahead of the Centre’s move, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had advised all tourists to leave the Valley. Governor Satya Pal Malik took the decision to roll back the advisory on October 7 after a security review meeting with government officials and Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam.

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