District Administration Leh in collaboration with Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) organised a one-day town hall meeting on ‘Future of Water in Leh: Where are we heading?’ on September 10 at Sindhu Sanskriti Bhawan. The objective of the meeting was to hold a participatory discussion on the water scenario in Leh and the steps that are required to overcome the water-related issues of the public.
Honourable Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) LAHDC Dorjey Mutup chaired the session, whereas Honourable Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Leh Nawang Rigzin Jora was the keynote speaker for the occasion. Additional Deputy Commissioner Moses Kunzang was the representative from the DC Office. The other prominent guests present during the meeting were executive councillors from LAHDC, Gyen Lobzang Nyantak, Upper Leh Councillor; Tikender Singh Panwar, former deputy mayor of Shimla; Manas Rath, senior advisor from BORDA, Sonam Wangchuk, Director HIAL; Chhewang Norphel, retired executive engineer who is often known as Ice Man; Lobzang Tsultim, former director of LEDeG; Rigzin Spalzang, former CEC LAHDC; Tsering Sampel, former president of District Congress Committee; Tsering Namgyal, president of District Congress Committee; P Angmo, president, BJP Mahila Morcha Leh; Puntsok Angchuk, president of Yangtse Yargas Tsogspa; Nurboo Gyaltsan, ex-Member of Legislative Council; Ravinder Thaploo, deputy director, Command Area; Gitanjali, CEO of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh (HIAL); Tsering Chondol, president of Women’s Alliance of Ladakh; Mohammad Deen, president of LEHO; goba and members of different chutsos and wards of Leh, and members of tours operators and hotel association in Leh.
ADC Moses Kunzang made the welcome speech and apprised the audience about the steps the district administration have in the pipeline to overcome the water-related problems in Leh. He focused on the need to have a proper baseline study to understand the actual water being supplied in Leh. He also shared that the administration will start a registration process for the private bore wells and also check the amount of groundwater being extracted so that necessary steps could be taken. Moses informed that the administration and LAHDC are working on water augmentation, sewerage system and sewage treatment plant (STP), beautification, maintenance and utilisation of water bodies that flow through the town. He also informed about taking up a pilot project in which they will levy a fee on water to generate revenue for operation and maintenance (O&M), upgradation and strengthening municipal committee, and revival of Chhurpon system.
Thereafter, Manas Rath gave an overview of water scenario in Leh, in which he talked about the water sources, supply, demand, challenges and solutions. Tikender Panwar then shared the Shimla water story with the audience while Tsewang Dorjey Dongbos talked about the situation and revival of Chhurpon system in Leh.
Nawang Rigzin Jora, the keynote speaker for the day, also suggested few steps to overcome the challenges, such as diverting MGNREGA funds for construction of ice-stupas, and concerted efforts of NGO’s and the government for conservation of water. There was also a question and answer session in which the public shared their grievances and also threw questions at the panellists.
Lastly, Dorjey Mutup, CEC LAHDC, said there should be policy on conservation of Indus River. He said a Rs 70-crore project is in the pipeline and once the project is completed it will provide water to every household in Leh.
Dr Nordan Otzer, executive director of LEDeG, thanked the guests, speakers and the public for their participation in the town hall meeting.