Every morning, Tsering Angmo leaves her two-year-old son with neighbours and commutes 20 km a frozen landscape from her home in Choglamsar, a settlement near Leh, to work at Ladakh’s only LPG bottling plant near Leh.
Angmo is part of a 12-member all-women crew making sure the 50,000 Indian soldiers eyeballing the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) in Arctic temperature do not have to march on empty stomachs.
The plant, built by state-run Indian Oil, together with refills stored by Hindustan Petroleum, is Ladakh's only source of cooking gas and a lifeline after once snow snaps road connectivity with the rest of the country. About 40% of the refills produced at the plant go to the defence establishment. It is also the country’s only LPG unit to be operated by women.
The women work the production line, check the quality of seals etc. and manage security.