Review meeting of Hanle Dark Sky Reserve, other developmental projects held

Principal Secretary, Forest, Ecology & Environment, Dr. Pawan Kotwal reviewed the status of various projects viz. Hanle Dark Sky Reserve, Revised Home Stay Scheme, Ladakh Pollution Control Committee, and other important developmental projects on October 3 at Civil Secretariat, Leh.

Mufti Sajjad Hussain, Chief Wildlife Warden/ Member Secretary, Ladakh Pollution Control Committee apprised the meeting that 18 community telescopes for the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve have been procured through the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and an equal number of beneficiaries have been selected by the selection committee for the distribution of telescopes.

He said that the selected beneficiaries will undergo training from the experts of IIA, Bangalore regarding the operation and handling of the telescopes from October 3 to 7, 2022, at Hanley village. The training will be followed by the distribution of telescopes and light management material which will help in livelihood generation for the locals, he added. Tourists can use these telescopes for basic night sky gazing, and identification of constellations among others. He said that the project Himank authorities have been requested for the construction of the entry gate and other infrastructure of the reserve.

Principal Secretary, Dr. Kotwal said that Hanle Dark Sky Reserve located in Hanle of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, the highest astronomical observatory in the world is going to be a unique facility in India. He shared that it is one of a kind and the entire process of putting up this facility together should be very well documented.

Regarding homestays in protected areas, sanctuaries, and national parks in Changthang, Nubra, and Hemis, the Chief Wildlife Warden shared that the proposal for the requirement of funds for the revised (approved) home stay policy for the items already approved in the Home Stay Policy of the Tourism Department will be submitted for the targets of 2022-23. The other items approved under the policy like renewable energy equipment and toilets are being incorporated in the CAMPA Action Plan, he added.

Detailed discussions also took place on important developmental projects viz. the Construction of the office of the Chief Forest Conservator, Forest parks and Green parks at Chuchot, Sumur Nubra, and the construction of Forest Department guest houses at Nyoma, Hanle, Tangste, Hunder, and Khalsti. It was informed that the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has been assigned the work of preparation of Detailed Project Reports.

The meeting also discussed the declaration of the Union Territory of Ladakh as an Air Pollution Control Area; the finalization of recruitment rules of the Ladakh Pollution Control Committee, and the approval and adoption of the logo for the Ladakh Pollution Control Committee.

The meeting was attended by Jigmet Takpa, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest; Mufti Sajjad Hussain, Chief Wildlife Warden/ Member Secretary, Ladakh Pollution Control Committee; Shrikant Suse, District Magistrate; Mohammad Ali, Divisional Forest Officer, Leh; Deputy Director (K) PDMD; Pankaj Raina, Wildlife Warden Leh.

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