India’s first ‘Night Sky Sanctuary’ to be set up in Ladakh: Jitendra Singh

NEW DELHI — India’s first-ever “Night Sky Sanctuary” will be set up in Ladakh within the next three months, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Saturday.

“India’s first-ever “Night Sky Sanctuary” to be set up in Ladakh as a part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary and the proposed Dark Sky Reserve will be completed at Hanle in Ladakh within 3 months that will boost Astro tourism in India and will be one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infra-red, and gamma-ray telescopes,” said Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology and Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences.

A tripartite MoU was signed recently among the UT administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the Dark Space Reserve.

Jitendra Singh said that all the stakeholders will jointly work towards the preservation of the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination, which is a serious threat to 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 and clear sky conditions and dry weather conditions exist throughout the year,” the minister added.

The Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, R.K. Mathur called on Singh to discuss projects on the leather centre, Leh Berry, Education Fair and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) supported schemes.

Jitendra Singh conveyed to LG, Ladakh that from next year, the Department of Science and Technology will establish a distinct and huge pavilion for Ladakh Education Fair, which will be an annual feature as announced by Mathur. The Minister said, DST will actively participate in correct subject choice, scholarships, career guidance, skills development and apprenticeship with the prime focus of employability of youth, an official said.

The minister further said that a high-level delegation of scientists and officials from Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai will visit Ladakh by the end of this year to explore the possibility of setting up a regional branch of CLRI, as the UT has a very rich and wide variety of animals for leather research and industry and to promote bio-economy of animal skin-derived products.

Jitendra Singh also thanked the Ladakh administration for taking the decision to start the commercial plantation of “Leh Berry”, which is gaining popularity in the entire region. — (ANI)