Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Brig. B.D. Mishra (Retd.) today called on the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh at North Block here and discussed the progress of the upcoming India’s first Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh, in addition to wide range of other issues pertaining to development of the region.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed the Lt. Governor that India’s first Night Sky Sanctuary being set up in Ladakh will give a fillip to Astro tourism in the Union Territory and generate revenue as well as livelihood. “Once the project is ready to become functional, on behalf of the Department of Science & Technology and CSIR, we will request Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to inaugurate it at his convenient date,” he added.
In December last year, the government had notified the proposed Dark Sky Reserve at Hanle village in Eastern Ladakh. Spread over 1,073 square kilometers, the Night Sky Reserve is located within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent to the Indian Astronomical Observatory, the second-highest optical telescope in the world, of Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Hanle at an elevation of 4500 meters.
“This Dark Sky Reserve is among only 15 or 16 of its kind in the world that will offer a spectacular view of the night sky. Because of its altitude and location across the Himalayas in the rain shadow area, this Night Sky Reserve is the ideal place for star gazers almost throughout the year,” said Dr Jitendra Singh.
The Night Sky Reserve aims to promote Livelihood through eco-friendly activities of Astro tourism, spread awareness about astronomy and boost scientific research with reduced artificial light and wildlife conservation. Dr Jitendra Singh said projects are afoot on developing food products from Leh Berry, the nutritionally rich and exotic fruit of the region.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Science & Technology is promoting “Leh Berry” which is an exclusive food product of the cold desert and also a means of wide-ranging entrepreneurship as well as self-livelihood.
Dr Jitendra Singh referred to PM Modi’s visit to Ladakh in May 2018, wherein the PM had strongly advised for widespread cultivation of sea buckthorn, which is the source of “Leh Berry”. He said, CSIR is also developing the harvesting machinery to be used by local farmers and Self-Help Groups, as currently only 10% of berry is being extracted from the wild sea buckthorn plant.
Dr Jitendra Singh said PM Modi accords highest priority to Ladakh and other remote regions of the country. “For the first time under the Modi government, Ladakh has been granted a University and an Engineering College and the Medical College Has also started academic sessions since last year,” he said.
The delegation also discussed strategic issues in the border region and local administrative matters.
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