Monday, June 5

How true are Ladakh’s ecology fears?


In the long list of demands to have emerged out from the land of Ladakh, the latest asserts that the glaciers in the cold desert will extinct if the region’s fragile climate and ecology is not protected under the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution. Environment protection and climate change are unrelated to the sixth schedule. There is no evidence of any sort to suggest that the two are connected. But then, Ladakh’s tryst with misinformation and its propagators is no longer an alien concept, especially after the formation of UT.

Glacier melting is a complex and global problem, with the developed nations—also the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions—at the root of it. Of course, the contribution of local activities to the melting of glaciers should not be ignored, but why be selective in blaming few and ignoring others. Ladakh’s so-called leaders have, for long, misled the Ladakhis and the world over, blaming the outsiders for Ladakh’s problems.

A glance over the recent years would tell that it is the locals who are damaging the environment by making hotels and resorts in pristine and wildlife areas like Pangong Tso and Hunder, sans any mechanism in place for scientific disposal of solid and liquid waste, and of course without permission from authorities. Ladakh is witnessing illegal mining in complete violation of environmental laws, even as the valuable upper soil developed in billions of years is being used for making houses and resorts.

While we come across statements– blaming the outsiders for Ladakh’s problems, every now and then, no one has dared to raise a voice against the rampant exploitation of the ecology at the hands of the locals of the region. As the countries across the globe are finally speaking up against the developed nations and global issues causing environmental damage, Ladakh’s focus on local non-connected political issues instead, is baffling.

This approach of closing the eyes to your own deed and shifting the blame onto others will only lead to Ladakh’s destruction in the years to come. If anything, there has been very few outside interventions made in Ladakh so far, except pumping money by the rest of the country.

Ever since the region was granted the union territory status, the government of India has been generously funding Ladakh. The funds allocated to Ladakh in each of the union budgets after its reorganisation make for the highest per capita expenditure in India. Even when the government stands to make nothing in revenue from the region, the funds have been granted to Ladakh to help it make for the opportunities it has lost, before 2019. Official documents reveal that Ladakh gets the highest budget of all Union Territories without legislature, but produces second lowest revenue after Lakshadweep, which is one-tenth of Ladakh’s population. That makes it clear that absence of sixth schedule is not any hindrance to Ladakh’s development and any one claiming otherwise is plainly spreading misinformation.

For sure, Ladakh has its own set of concerns– mainly connected with the exclusive rights on its land, jobs, culture and employment. The Ladakhi sentiments have been respected by the government recently with the formation of a high-powered committee under the leadership of junior Home Minister. It is unfortunate that some leaders of Ladakh are reluctant to join the panel constituted to discuss their concerns. Their reasons are for anyone to guess, but in doing so, they are keeping the people of the region away from projecting their concerns, whatsoever of them remaining, after the adequate protection provided by the administration in terms of jobs, culture, language and land.

Regarding Ladakh’s environment, both the Centre government and the UT administration have made gigantic efforts to preserve Ladakh’s unique climate and fragile ecology. In a testimony of its commitment towards the region, not very long ago, Prime Minister had declared Ladakh the only region in the country to become carbon Neutral, with the Central government preparing a road map soon after to achieve this. In the follow-up, the UT administration has issued Ladakh Vision 2047 targeting sustainable and eco-friendly development in the region. With road maps and objectives of the Centre government and UT administration being very clear in light of the commitments made and the efforts made in that direction, Ladakhis must not fear about the ecology.




Leave a reply