New Delhi, Nov 26: Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh announced that Ladakh is set to become the site of South East Asia's inaugural Night Sky Sanctuary. This unique project is a collaborative effort with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bengaluru, affiliated with the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. Dr Singh commended the active cooperation of Lt Governor of Ladakh, Brig (Retd) B.D. Mishra, in realizing this ambitious initiative.
The announcement took place during the inauguration of the exhibition 'Ladakh’s Pride,' organized by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, marking the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The Dark Sky Reserve will be situated in Hanle village, Eastern Ladakh, within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, elevating India's status in astro-tourism with one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infra-red, and gamma-ray telescopes.
Covering an area of 1,073 square kilometres, the Night Sky Reserve is nestled within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, adjacent to the Indian Astronomical Observatory at Hanle, home to the world's second-highest optical telescope at an elevation of 4,500 meters. Dr Jitendra Singh highlighted the significance of this reserve, stating that it will captivate stargazers and be among only 15 or 16 of its kind globally.
The Union Minister emphasized the collaborative efforts by signing a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the UT Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for the establishment of the Dark Sky Reserve. He noted that the site will contribute to local tourism and the economy through science and technology interventions.
Dr Jitendra Singh praised the LAHDC-Leh for organizing the exhibition 'Ladakh’s Pride,' showcasing Ladakh's GI-tagged treasures such as Seabuckthorn, Raktsey Karpo apricots, Ladakh wood carvings, and Pashmina wool. Additionally, he highlighted the promotion of 'Leh Berry' by the CSIR in the Union Ministry of Science &
Technology, an exclusive food product of the cold desert.