With an aim to create a sustainable environment in the Himalayan region, Naropa Fellows have initiated a clean-up drive in Leh to minimize the increasing plastic waste in the region. Aimed at creating awareness around environmental sustainability, the first cohort of Naropa Fellows recently de-clogged a brook littered with plastic and collected non bio-degradable waste from the Photang area in Hemis.
The Naropa Fellowship is a one-year, fully residential, post-graduate, academic programme focused on creating and nurturing agents of change who will work towards building a sustainable socio-economic environment in Ladakh and the greater Himalayas. It seeks to foster entrepreneurship, retain local talent while preserving the cultural heritage of the region. The fellowship is designed to address the rising challenges of unemployment, lack of training and professional skills, and gradual cultural erosion in Ladakhi and the Himalayan societies. The Naropa campus is located at Hemis, a beautiful village in Leh.
Mudra Kumar, one of the Fellows who was part of the clean-up drive said “We get motivated by the work of our leaders who are constantly inspiring us to take positive steps for the Himalayan region. When we saw this brook blocked by plastic waste, we decided to de-clog and clean up the area. We aim to take these clean up drives to a big scale to make an impact in the entire region starting with Leh”.
The local tourism body has indicated that over 277,000 tourists visited Leh last year which is twice the number of residents in the region. As tourism grows, so does trash in Ladakh. “All of a sudden we started generating more than 20 tonnes of waste and a lot of sewage per day,” said Rigzin Spalgon, who heads Leh’s Municipal Committee.
Another source added that a staggering 30,000 plastic water bottles are dumped in Leh every day. The rising piles of garbage, scarcity of water, and traffic pollution are becoming a serious concern for the locals. The Naropa Fellows have realised the urgent need to take actions to save the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.
With adverse effects of climate change and growing consumerism in the Himalayan region, especially Leh, these clean up drives are necessary to foster the traditional eco-friendly lifestyle, keep the surroundings clean, and tackle the menace of plastic pollution.
His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, Co-founder of Naropa Fellowship who has been leading several Eco pad-yatras all around India to save the environment boosted the morale of the students and said “It is heartening to see that these students are really working hard to save the environment. For a society to be prosperous in every aspect, the people must cooperate and work together to achieve larger goals. The Himalayas are already facing a water crisis, so water sources must be preserved, respected and judiciously used. Plastic is also a big concern, so we need to minimise the use of plastic and work for proper disposal.”