Breathtaking landscapes, crystal clear sky-high mountain passes, thrilling adventure activities, and Buddhist monasteries are some of the pictures that come to one's mind when thinking about the Union Territory of Ladakh. Bordered by the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) and Aksai Chin in the East, J&K Union Territory and the Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region to the West, Himachal Pradesh to the South, and Xinjiang (China) across the Karakorum pass to the North, Ladakh is a top-rated destination among travellers. Though it has long drawn tourists from all over India and the world, it is only recently that His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche, the Green Ambassador of Ladakh, has launched an initiative to promote sustainable development.
Since it was made into a UT, Ladakh has been witnessing widespread development in the form of hotels, restaurants, bike shops, and new camping rounds. This has resulted in an increase in plastic waste left behind by tourists. To tackle this problem and to preserve ecology in the Himalayas, it has been decided that about 10 percent of the bituminous roads in the region will be constructed using plastic.
To discuss the execution of this plan, the Rural Development Department of Ladakh, in collaboration with the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) organised a planning and training session for engineers last month.
In addition, the concerned authorities have also taken the initiative to promote sustainable development in domestic yak preservation. Yaks have been domesticated in Ladakh for thousands of years and are a precious animal in the Himalayan economy. They are mainly used to carry loads and plow fields.
Authorities are planning to buy male and female hybrids—wild yak (Bos mutus) and domesticated yak (Bos grunniens)—from the Pangong Valley and give them to the nearby valleys of the Lalok region. This initiative will aid in the reproduction of a more robust and healthier genetic breed of wild yak in the valley, which will benefit the locals.
Meanwhile, earlier in August 2019, the central government had announced its intention to focus on eco-tourism in Ladakh by promoting bird watching and preservation of structures with heritage importance.
Furthermore, efforts are being made to promote Ladakh among writers and researchers as an ideal location for their work. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is also working to restore the region's heritage structures.