The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council is on a mission to clear illegal structures near the world famous Pangong Lake, after environmentalists raised an alarm that the fragile eco-system surrounding it is on the verge of collapse.
The minister for Ladakh affairs, Chhering Dorjey, along with Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) LAHDC, Sonam Dawa visited many villages near the Pangong Lake in May to oversee the removal of encroachments. Dawa told the media that they would clear all encroachments from the villages of Fobrang Yurgo Maan, Merak and Spangmik along the Pangong Lake, which passes through these hamlets. Government of India recently declared the Pangong Lake as a cold desert sanctuary and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has also asked for the removal of all structures alongside the lake.
Leh and the Pangong Lake are witnessing unprecedented tourist flow this summer, adding to the worries of conservationists. The huge tourist flow is attributed to the Aamir Khan blockbuster Three Idiots, the climax of which was shot in the backdrop of this famous lake. After the release of the film, the inflow of tourists in Ladakh multiplied and the Pangong 125 km long water body came under severe threat. A lot of illegal structures and restaurants have been erected around Pangong Lake and most of them have been named Rancho’s Café. In the peak summer months, thousands of youths from across the country visit Ladakh, bringing the desert region to its “breaking point”. “The government should regulate tourism in the Ladakh region, otherwise all its beauty would be destroyed,” said Noor Jahan, an artist from Leh.
Chhering Dorjey told The Sunday Guardian that they are taking all the steps to divert the tourist rush to other new destinations in Ladakh.