Ladakh is a beautiful place in northern India and is considered a paradise on earth for centuries. The beauty of the Ladakh region is so mesmerizing that it looks like a crown to India’s head. From white painted stupas to divine monasteries, sunny summers, frostbite winters, enchanting cold desserts, magnetic hills, and endorheic lakes, there is so much to see and experience at this exotic place.
Ladakh is mysteriously different from any other hill station because of its unusual weather, alluring landscapes, traditional culture, and hardworking people. These incredible aspects attract thousands of tourists every year from all over the world to this Buddhist hilltop.
Ladakh is now the most favorite tourist place for all.
Though tourism is good for the development of Ladakh it is also hampering the ecosystem of this place to a greater extent. Therefore, it has become crucial to conserve this heaven-like place and preserve its mesmerizing beauty.
The Indian government has initiated some projects to protect and develop Ladakh in a sustainable way and in that direction has also taken a historical decision of making it a union territory. Now, there is the hope of getting things done properly and systematically which would bring prosperity for the Ladakhi people and help them to grow economically.
What is the need of the hour in Ladakh?
Although the government is doing its job. Perhaps, the need of the hour is to create awareness among locals and tourists. Awareness about the things which are affecting Ladakh’s ecosystem and encourage them to take a step forward towards its protection. In fact, whosoever is associated with this place, needs to understand their responsibilities. And instead of destroying its natural beauty should take voluntary participation in its maintenance and safety.
As per the Tourism Ministry of India, tourism in Ladakh was opened in 1974. That time, hardly 500 tourists visited and explored the beauty of this cold desert of India. Since then the number has increased very rapidly and reached to a point of about 2 lakhs each year during summers.
Isn’t it an alarming number for such a sensitive place?
Ultimately, Ladakh is an extremely ecological sensitive place that has limited resources to survive. And if the number of tourists keeps on increasing at such a pace, then there will be a major strain on the natural resources of this fragile ecosystem.
There is no harm in embracing modern development and encouraging more people to visit this place. But on the flip side, there are some major issues Ladakhi people should take care of. No doubt, tourism brings money to them through new business and job opportunities across the valley but the damage through excess tourism is dangerous for their native place.
Should there be any guidelines?
As far as tourism is concerned, there must be observatory precautions to avoid more loss to the nature of Ladakh.
Yes, guidelines and predefined standards play a key role in every system and likewise needed for the tourists of Ladakh. A high volume of visitors brings huge traffic to the valley hence an increased level of pollution. This pollution is deadly for the mountains of Ladakh. Every individual must understand the alarming situation created through climate change and should adopt ecotourism.
Ecotourism is responsible travel to explore nature without harming it. Under ecotourism, pollution comes under control, and its bad effects can be avoided if people use public transport instead of personal vehicles, and if personal vehicle is a necessity then it should be a pollution-free vehicle certificate.
Are we becoming a threat to this paradise?
The centuries of ecological balance and social harmony in Ladakh are under threat due to the global economic growth and pressure. Therefore, to compete with global completion, more commercial activities are taking place. And more business opportunities in the valley means more to and fro of commercial vehicles. Thus, more diesel engines emitting highly toxic gases in the air of Ladakh.
Evidently, we will see the CO2 emission reaching an alarming level and bringing climate change at a fast pace. This change melts the glaciers and reduce the amount of snowfall.
Climate change and its effects in the valley is very much visible now.
As of, irrigation by snow and glacier water is the main contributor to the agricultural productivity in Ladakh. Especially, for around 90 percent of farmers who rely on self-sustaining farming practices. Lack of snow hampers the productivity of agriculture, hence the shortage of food for the Ladakhi locals during winters.
The effects of climate change bring natural calamities and destroy everything that comes in its way. Although rainfall in this region had also become erratic when cloud burst happened in 2010. It killed more than 200 people in Ladakh and around 10,000 in nearby states.
Is transportation is the only factor for pollution in the valley?
However, transportation is not the only thing that threatens the beauty of Ladakh. Uncontrolled plastic use, poor waste management, increasing heights of dumping yards, wastage of water, unplanned construction of hotels, and ignorance towards the sewage system are some big issues that are causing damage to the Ladakh’s splendid natural beauty.
However, Ladakhi locals have started realizing the impact of climate change in the valley and its drastic effect on the ecosystem. Along with locals, NGOs like Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG), is responding and taking positive initiatives to stop climate change in the Leh and Ladakh valley. And it is by making the transition to renewable energy.
How to achieve sustainable development?
To maintain traditional Ladakhi natural beauty and culture, it is important to promote sustainable development. For example, the use of solar power plants to generate electricity and artificial glaciers to store snowfall. And its melting water should be used efficiently at the time of the water crisis during summers. This sustainable development is not possible without the joint efforts of the Ladakhi community, government officials and most importantly, the visitors.
Although, Ladakh is very popular for its clear sky and mesmerizing view of stars at night (Milky way). If we don’t take care of the pollution level now, then that day won’t be far when the glittering of stars will disappear from its sky. Hence, education and awareness are necessary to conserve the environment and sustain the loveliness of this place.
Would you like to contribute to this place?
Next time when you plan a holiday and would like to ride a bullet all over the magnetic hills of Ladakh, don’t forget to decide your contribution. Even a single contribution counts and makes a difference.