Mon, 05 Jun 2023

New Delhi [India], March 21 (ANI): Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Monday said the Ladakh leaders 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.

"On behalf of the Department of Science and Technology and CSIR, we will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Night Sky Reserve at an early date," he added.

A delegation led by the Chairman, of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Tashi Gyalson on Monday called on the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Jitendra Singh in New Delhi and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the development of the region.

In December last year, the Ladakh UT Administration 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 the Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Hanleat an elevation of 4500 meters.

"This Dark Sky Reserve is among only the 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 Jitendra Singh.

"On behalf of the Department of Science and Technology and CSIR, we will request the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Night Sky Reserve at an early date," he added.

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.

Jitendra Singh said projects are afoot on developing food products from Leh Berry, the nutritionally rich and exotic fruit of the region.

Singh thanked the Ladakh Administration for taking a decision to start the commercial plantation of "Leh Berry" from last year. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the aegis of Union Ministry of ScienceTechnology 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.

The Union Minister 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 per cent of berry is being extracted from the wild sea buckthorn plant.

Chairman, LAHDC-Leh complimented Dr Jitendra Singh for approving the setting up of an exclusive Examination Centre at Leh for conducting the Civil Services Examination by the DoPT. "This brings huge relief to the students who were compelled to incur huge expenses travelling to other Centres like Srinagar or Chandigarh," he said.

Dr Jitendra Singh said PM Modi accords the 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. (ANI)

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