A battle to save Ladakh, and all of humanity

Syllabus: GS-III, Subject: Environment, Ecology and Disaster Management, Topic: Biodiversity and Conservation, Issue: Biodiversity of India (Ladakh region)

Context: Climate fast has highlighted the larger issue of the fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem.

Ladakh region:

  • Ladakh, at 11,500 feet, hosts 97% indigenous tribes reliant on pastoral lifestyles.
  • Ladakh’s glaciers play a vital role in rivers like Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra.
  • Global warming threatens these glaciers, endangering water resources for both mountain residents and downstream populations.
  • Climate change brings floods, droughts, landslides, and pollution to Ladakh, in addition to border disputes.
  • The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) aims to assess vulnerability to climate change and monitor ecosystem health.

Recent issues:

  • Ladakh witnessing a boom in mega infrastructure projects like roads, tunnels, railways, solar plants, and an airport terminal.
  • Despite past Himalayan disasters such as Kedarnath floods (2013) and recent incidents like Silkyara tunnel collapse, rapid infrastructure development persists.
  • Climate change activists’ warnings are disregarded, resulting in insufficient risk assessment and safety measures in mountain projects.


  • It is crucial to prioritize environmental protection and balance in the fragile Himalayan ecosystem amidst development efforts.
+1 advantage for mains (Committee recommendations)

·                 A Supreme Court expert committee advised limiting pilgrim numbers at Char Dham shrines to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

·                 Carrying capacity refers to the maximum sustainable population an ecosystem can support without degradation.

·                 Despite recommendations, pilgrim numbers continue to rise annually, straining the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.

·                 Some committees proposed banning hydroelectric projects in para-glacial zones to protect the environment from further harm.

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