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     New Delhi, November 26, 2023: South East Asia’s first Night Sky Sanctuary would soon be set up in Ladakh, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said today.

    The Sanctuary is being set up with the help of Indian Institute of Astrophysics Bengaluru, which is affiliated to the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India, Minister for Science & Technology, PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh said.

     On behalf of the Ministry of Science & Technology and CSIR, we will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Night Sky Reserve at Hanle, in Eastern Ladakh, the Minister said.

     The Dark Sky Reserve will be located at Hanle village in Eastern Ladakh as a part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. It 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.

     Spread over 1,073 square kilometres, the Night Sky Reserve is located within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent to the Indian Astronomical Observatory, the second-highest optical telescope in the world, of Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Hanle at an elevation of 4500 metres.

     “At a time when the country is celebrating the success of Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1 solar mission, this Dark Sky Reserve will fascinate the stargazers, being among only the 15 or 16 of its kind in the world,” said Dr Jitendra Singh.

     The Union Minister said that a tripartite MoU was signed among the UT Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the Dark Space Reserve. He said, the site will have activities to help in boosting local tourism and economy through interventions of Science and Technology.  

     While inaugurating the exhibition ‘Ladakh’s Pride’ in New Delhi, marking the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Union Territory of Ladakh, the Union Minister complimented the LAHDC-Leh for showcasing the remote region’s treasures for the first time in the country outside Ladakh. The exhibition showcases GI-tagged treasures of Ladakh, – Seabuckthorn, Raktsey Karpoapricots, Ladakh wood carvings and Pashmina wool.
     The CSIR in the Union Ministry of Science & Technology is promoting “Leh Berry’, which is an exclusive food product of the cold desert, Singh said. Referring to PM Modi’s visit to Ladakh in May 2018, he said the Prime Minister has strongly advised for widespread cultivation of Seabuckthorn, which is the source of “Leh Berry”. 

     The Minister said that commercial cultivation of three medicinal plants is also being promoted at a height of above 15,000 feet. This includes “Sanjeevani Booti”, locally known as “Sola”, which has very high life saving and therapeutic properties.

      He also appreciated the Lt Governor of Ladakh, Brig (Retd) B.D. Mishra for his active cooperation in the project.

      The exhibition was organised by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh at the initiative of Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) Tashi Gyalson.

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