Ladakh will have India’s first-ever ‘night sky sanctuary’

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NEW DELHI: In a unique and one-of-a-kind initiative, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has set out to set up India’s first-ever “Night Sky Sanctuary” in Ladakh, which will be completed in the next three months.

The proposed dark sky reserve will be located in Hanle in Ladakh as part of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. It will boost astrotourism in India and be one of the world’s highest sites for optical, infrared and gamma telescopes.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said all stakeholders will work together to safeguard the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination, which poses a threat serious for scientific observations and natural sky conditions.

It should be noted that Hanle is best suited for the project as it is located in the cold desert region of Ladakh far from any form of human disturbance and clear skies and dry weather conditions exist throughout the year, added the minister.

The Minister informed that a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding has been signed recently between UT Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for the launch from the dark space reserve.

He said the site will have activities to help boost tourism and the local economy through science and technology interventions.

Jitendra Singh said a high-level delegation of scientists and officials from the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) in Chennai will visit Ladakh by the end of this year to explore the possibility of creating a regional branch of the CLRI, as the Union Territory has a very rich and wide variety of animals for research and the leather industry and to promote the bio-economy of products derived from animal skin.

He added that Charthang in Ladakh has more than 4 lakh animals, mostly pashmina goats, in addition to sheep and yaks.

He also commended CSIR for organizing four training workshops, two each in Leh and Kargil for the treatment of famous diseases.

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