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    New Delhi: Nigh sky sanctuary to be set up in Ladakh

    New Delhi: (India Science Wire) In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, has undertaken to set up a "Night Sky Sanctuary" in Ladakh. It will be completed within the next three months.

    The facility will be located at Hanle in Ladakh as a part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. It is expected to boost Astro-tourism in India. Hanle is one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infrared, and gamma-ray telescopes.

    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, announced this after meeting Lt. Governor of  Ladakh, R.K. Mathur. 

    He informed that a tripartite MoU was signed recently among the UT administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the dark space reserve. The site will have activities to help boost local tourism and the economy through science and technology interventions.

    Dr Jitendra Singh said that all the stakeholders would work to preserve the night sky from light pollution and illumination, which seriously threatens scientific observations and natural sky conditions. It may be noted that Hanle is best suited for the project as it is located in Ladakh’s cold desert region, away from any form of human disturbance. Clear sky and dry weather conditions throughout the year make it more apt, the Minister added.

    He also stated that a high-level delegation of scientists and officials from Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai, will visit Ladakh by the end of this year to explore the possibility of setting up a regional branch of CLRI, as the Union Territory has a very rich and wide variety of animals for leather research and animal skin-derived products. He added that Charthang in Ladakh has over 4 lakh animals, mainly pashmina goats, besides sheep and yak. He also complimented CSIR for organising 4 training workshops, two each at Leh and Kargil, for treating diseases of pashmina goats.

    He also thanked Ladakh Administration for deciding to start a commercial plantation of Leh Berry, which is gaining popularity in the entire region. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Science and Technology is promoting Leh Berry, an exclusive food product of the cold desert and a means of wide-ranging entrepreneurship and self-livelihood.

    The Minister said, as per the vision of Prime Minister Modi’s Ladakh visit in 2018, the local entrepreneurs will be provided employment through farming, processing, and marketing of about 100 odd products from the sea buckthorn plant like jams, juices, herbal tea, vitamin C supplements, health drinks, cream, oils, and soaps in a completely organic manner. 

    R. K. Mathur said that commercial cultivation of three medicinal plants would begin this spring season at the height of above 15,000 feet. This includes “Sanjeevani booty”, locally known as “Sola” which has high life-saving and therapeutic properties. 

    (India Science Wire)

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