Eco-sensitive Ladakh needs strict rules to dodge imprudent tourism practices
LEH: In recent years, Ladakh has seen a significant increase in tourism, which has brought many benefits to the region’s economy. However, with the growing number of tourist footfall, there has also been a rise in incidents of environmental harm caused by visitors. One of the most concerning issues in Ladakh is the degradation of the region’s lakes, which are an integral part of the area’s unique ecosystem.
In Ladakh, many tourists visit Pangong Tso Lake, which is a high-altitude lake situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters, among other several lakes including Tso Moriri Lake, and Tso Kar Lake. In recent years, there have been several incidents of tourists harming the lake’s fragile ecosystem.
Many visitors have been seen throwing garbage into the lake, which harms the water quality and affects aquatic life. Additionally, tourists have been spotted camping near the lake’s shore, which disturbs the local wildlife and vegetation.
Rash and irresponsible driving vehicles in water bodies is now an added harming trend in the UT which is downgrading the water bodies. Another issue in Ladakh is the growing number of off-road vehicles that tourists use to explore the region. These vehicles have caused significant damage to the area’s fragile ecosystem, including soil erosion, vegetation destruction, and wildlife disturbance. Furthermore, many tourists have been seen driving recklessly, which poses a risk to public safety and causes noise pollution that harms the local fauna.
In the start of this year’s tourist season, a group of tourists drove a car in the pristine Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh UT, and moreover a couple of days back, another group of tourists were seen driving in another water body carelessly and irresponsibly causing damage. However, the reckless acts were denounced by all including the local social activists, and the administration.
One of the social activists said that to prevent these incidents from occurring in Ladakh in particular, the local government and tourism sector must take several measures.
“The first step is to raise awareness among tourists about the importance of maintaining the region’s delicate ecosystem. The government should introduce campaigns to educate visitors on the harmful effects of littering, camping in prohibited areas, and driving recklessly,” the activist said, adding, “ The UT tourism industry can also play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism practices that prioritize environmental conservation.”
For Ladakh in particular, the administration should implement strict regulations for tourism activities in the UT. The government must introduce rules that prohibit camping near lakes, restrict off-road vehicle access to certain areas, and establish fines for visitors who violate environmental regulations.
By enforcing these rules, the government would certainly discourage tourists from engaging in harmful activities and ensure that visitors respect the region’s fragile ecosystem, he said.
The government should also invest in sustainable tourism practices that prioritize environmental conservation and benefit the local community. For instance, the government can encourage the development of eco-friendly accommodations that minimize the impact on the local environment.
Decision makers should promote community-based tourism initiatives that provide economic benefits to the local community and encourage visitors to engage in responsible tourism practices.
Implementing strict regulations, and promoting sustainable tourism practices to protect the region’s fragile ecosystem for future generations is what Ladakh needs.