Sonam Wangchuk begins hunger strike to 'save Ladakh'
Ladakh-based social reformist Sonam Wangchuk, whose life story inspired the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots, started his five-day-long climate fast to "save Ladakh" on Thursday on the terrace of the Himalayan Institute of Alternative Ladakh (HIAL) in Phyang. Wangchuk had earlier said that through his protest, he wanted to urge the union government for constitutional security for the ecologically fragile glaciers in Ladakh.
Why does this story matter?
- Since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, Ladakh has been without a Legislative Assembly following the division of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- Numerous groups are now calling for the protection of Lakadh's employment, land, and cultural essence under the Sixth Schedule, which grants communities the autonomy to create their own laws.
- To raise awareness, Wangchuk has launched his climate fast.
Wangchuk reveals why he couldn't reach Khardung La
Taking to Twitter, Wangchuk shared a video on Friday and revealed that he couldn't reach Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roadways on the planet at 18,000 feet, as all roads were closed amid heavy snowfall. Per reports, the current mercury level at Khardung La is -40 degree Celsius. "Still on rooftop as roads were blocked & I've been denied permission," he tweeted.
Wangchuk is protesting in -20 degree Celsius
In the video, the surrounding area and the rooftop can be seen covered with snow. As per Wangchuk, Phyang's current temperature is -20 degree Celsius. Earlier, he warned that if the carelessness continues and Ladakh is not provided protection from industries, the glaciers will become extinct, causing enormous problems amid India's water scarcity.
Video of Wangchuk in Phyang
AFTER THE 1st DAY— Sonam Wangchuk (@Wangchuk66) January 27, 2023
OF MY #ClimateFast FOR LADAKH...
Still on rooftop as roads were blocked I've been denied permission to get to #KHARDUNGLA
More later...#SaveLadakh@350@UNFCCC @UNEP #ilivesimply @narendramodi @LeoDiCaprio pic.twitter.com/koJvLtzvsZ
2/3rd of Ladakh's glaciers might become extinct
Concerned about the rapid melting of glaciers and other climate-related disasters, the 56-year-old went on a hunger strike, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the protection and safety of Ladakh. According to studies, nearly two-thirds of the Union Territory's glaciers face the risk of extinction.
Wangchuk's urgent plea to PM Modi, Indians and the world
In a video posted on Wangchuk's YouTube channel, he "urgently" pleaded to the people of India and the global audience to assist in protecting Ladakh's "environmentally sensitive" region. In the 13-minute long video, he can also be heard urging PM Modi to intervene and protect the ecosystem under the sixth schedule of the Constitution of India.
Government indicated inclusion in Sixth Schedule, but nothing happened: Wangchuk
He also talked about how during the abrogation of Article 370, the Centre indicated that Ladakh would be integrated into the Sixth Schedule. In spite of having over 95% tribal population, Ladakh still hasn't been assured the entitled autonomy. The Sixth Schedule allows communities to form Autonomous Development Councils that can articulate laws on public health, agriculture, and land, among others.