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Ladakh’s urgent cry for environmental protection


Activists in , spurred by Sonam Wangchuk's climate fast, rally for urgent Government action to preserve the fragile

Tsewang Dolma

Ladakh has recently garnered attention due to Sonam Wangchuk's 21-day climate fast, followed by a 10-day fast by women advocating for Ladakh's statehood and the protection of its delicate Himalayan ecology. The primary objective is to urge the government to take decisive action to safeguard the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan mountains in Ladakh, as well as the unique indigenous tribal cultures that flourish within its borders.

Despite the pressing concerns of local residents regarding the fragile ecosystem of this snow desert, their voices have largely gone unheard by policymakers. Foremost among the challenges faced by Ladakhis is the looming water crisis. Diminished snowfall over the years, coupled with escalating consumption driven by the demands of , has precipitated a severe water scarcity in the region.

Located on the banks of Indus River, Chuchot village is located approximately 18 kilometers from 's district headquarters. This village stands out as one of the rare few with improved irrigation systems supporting private farmland, supplied with water via channels connected to the Indus River. Unfortunately, this vital water supply is becoming increasingly contaminated, yet there is a glaring lack of monitoring efforts or plans to prevent its pollution.

During a recent field visit to Chuchot, locals lamented the degradation of their water sources. They reminisced about drinking canal water during their childhood but now, due to contamination by tourists, they are forced to rely on jaljeevan water for drinking and cooking. Sadly, even this source is under threat due to rapidly receding glaciers, compounded by the influx of tourists who pollute the pristine waterways.

The pollution of our water sources is primarily attributed to inadequate sewage disposal practices. What was once recycled as manure is now flushed directly into our water bodies, rendering them unfit for use. With melting snow being our primary source of drinking water and low average rainfall exacerbating our reliance on glacier meltwater, Ladakh is facing an acute water crisis.

However, amidst these challenges, there are glimmers of hope. Some villages have implemented water testing initiatives to ensure the safety of their water sources. Additionally, interventions like the Jaljeevan Mission have provided alternative water sources, mitigating the impact of water scarcity on communities.

Yet, the role of local governance, represented by the Sarpanch, is pivotal. It is imperative that all water management facilities are efficiently managed and maintained under their jurisdiction. However, freezing canals in winter and inadequate infrastructure pose additional challenges that must be addressed urgently.

As a community, we must heed the warnings of environmentalists and activists who advocate for water conservation. The words of Nazer Husain, “Don't let the water run in the sink, our life's on the brink,” resonate deeply. Water is indeed the essence of life, and it is incumbent upon us to protect and preserve it for future generations.

In conclusion, the escalating threat of water pollution demands collective action and concerted efforts to safeguard our environment. Water conservation must become a cornerstone of our collective ethos, ensuring the sustainable future of Ladakh and its people. The voices of our people must be heard and respected.


(The Writer is a student at EJM College, Leh; views are personal. Charkha Features)





The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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