The Indian Army is planning to open up several high altitude military locations such as the Siachen Glacier for Indian citizens. The plan was recently mentioned by Army chief General Bipin Rawat during a seminar. "During the conference, the Army chief stated that there is increased curiosity about the Indian Army and its operational challenges," news agency ANI quoted top Army sources as saying. The Siachen Glacier is part of Ladakh which has now been converted into a Union Territory by the Narendra Modi government.
"The chief further said that this would be good for national integration. As the force has been allowing citizens to visit training centres and institutions, we now plan to open some forward posts like Siachen Glacier as well," they said.
However, the Army has not yet decided on the procedures and the particular positions where it would allow tourists.
The Siachen Glacier in the Karakorum range is known as the highest militarised zone in the world where the soldiers have to battle frostbite and high winds. India and Pakistan started deploying troops at the strategically key glacier in 1984.
The Army's 14 Corps guards the Line of Actual Control with China as well as the Line of Control with Pakistan. The Srinagar-based 15 Corp is mainly tasked with carrying out anti-terror operations in the Kashmir valley.
Keeping ice avalanches in mind, the Army is buying special radars that can detect humans buried under ice, unlike the earlier ones which could detect only through the snow.
The Army is also equipping its men with Avalanche Buoyance Systems - air bags that can be triggered remotely - which prevent burial in an avalanche by providing extra buoyancy.
The effect of the climate change is such that the snout of the Siachen Glacier has actually receded back by about 800 metres in the last one decade or so.