The people of Leh and Ladakh, were very self reliant community with a lot of environment friendly practices. Not until couple of years ago when tourism became rampant and more and more hotels sprung up which created a lot of stress on the local environment specially water.
As responsible tourists, we need to understand the bigger picture. Learn from a local culture residing since time memorial and not crush it with our greed for an unknown adventure. But, still there are some organisations such as LEDeG, NCF and SECMOL that are working for these causes.
Ladakh Ecological Development Group-LEDeG (www.ledeg.org) is a non-governmental organization based at Leh. Since its formation, it has consistently worked towards serving the underprivileged people residing in disadvantaged areas of Ladakh and also address the environmental and cultural issues affecting the people in the region due to the current developmental initiatives. The crux of these initiatives is utilising renewable sources of energy and effective management of waste.
NCF (www.ncf-india.org) assists in better conservation management of the magnificent mountain ungulates of the Trans-Himalaya among the other activities that it undertakes.
Another institution that is handling the problems by directly getting the young involved is SECMOL. The Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh, SECMOL (www.secmol.org) was started by a Ladakhi engineer, Sonam Wangchuk.
SECMOL provides hostel facilities for high school and college students. They learn by doing. The entire campus is sustainable and is run by the students themselves.
From solar cooking to solar heating, to generating solar electricity. From biogas generation, to earth-building of structures. From learning English and understanding Science, they get so much more than just academics. People from all over the world volunteer at this institution to learn something new and in-turn teach their skills.
Sonam Wangchuk, the man behind this brilliant institution is currently coming up with a new invention, inspired from the people who are doing it abroad.
Since Ladakh is a barren land and has only 2 months of cropping season, the building of artificial glaciers would promise extra months for cropping. A conical structure of locally available Seabuck thorn is created in order to hold the ice.
Underground pipes bring water from nearby streams coming from a higher altitude. The structure is made on a south-facing low altitude region. The water is pushed up to the pipe that holds the thorny conical structure by its own kinetic energy. There is sprinkler attached to the top of the pipe which then releases the water in winters.
The water freezes instantly as it comes out of the pipe upon the conical structure. This creates an artificial glacier that holds itself until the summer months. As it starts melting, the irrigation channels laid out help it to reach the trees planted, which are water-fed by drip irrigation. This simple concept provides the villagers extra months of agriculture and also helps in greening the arid land.