LEH: The declaration of Ladakh as a Union Territory has been welcomed by many who believe that it was a much-awaited decision. Even as people came together to celebrate the historic event at the main market, many have turned their focus to two most crucial aspects — preservation of the culture that is innate to Ladakh and the fragile ecosystem.
Stressing on these aspects from day one was Sonam Wangchuk, the director of the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives. “While we welcome the UT status, the second step is to put forward certain safeguards regarding the fragile ecosystem and the culture. So, either the government should work towards them or the people should demand for them,” said Wangchuk.
27-year-old Dorjey Youron, a resident of Shey village, said, “Ladakh has acres of barren land that may not be cultivable but can be used to set up various industries. So, with the opening of the market and rise in the value of land, these are in time-bound to be leased or sold. This would, in turn, increase the footfall of people who would be willing to work in industries. Thus, increasing the carbon footprint.”
However, one might point out that there will be greater job opportunities with such inventories. While the idea does sound tempting Dorjey Namgyal, 79, who runs a store that deals in brocade fabric, dismisses it completely. “I rent this shop but if someone else offers more than what I pay, don’t you think the owner will rent it out to him. This would leave me jobless and so will be the case for many others like me,” he said, adding, “Any job opportunity that comes this way will be contested by hundreds or even thousands.”
Namgyal wonders how many young Ladakhi children will be able to compete with people who have already had better education compared to the ones here.