Pangong Lake of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, identified as iconic heritage has been chosen among ten Swachh Iconic Places to be brought under phase 3 of the flagship programme of the Central Government, the Swachh Bharat Mission. It may be recalled that “Swachh Iconic places” is a term implying an ambition under the Swachh Bharat Mission, where special clean up initiative is embarked upon to restore the pristine look and the desired clean tidy surroundings to such select iconic heritages, spiritual and cultural places in the country. Four Union ministries in close cooperation are coordinating the mission work. These Ministries are Drinking Water and Sanitation, Urban Development, Culture and Tourism respectively along with the concerned State Governments.
The coverage has been split into three phases and under the third phase, does the famous Pangong Lake figure. This work does not, however, seem to be as easy as it may look in other places of iconic importance. It has its own problems as most of the part of this lake is in China, nearly 60 percent. During harsh winter months, this lake remains completely frozen and unless an internationally latest apparatus to launch Swachh Abhiyan is available, it is feared much cannot be done about it. Besides, no concrete information is available as to which efforts, the State Government and in particular Tourism Ministry has been taking so far, independent of the intervention of the SBA of the Central Government, in respect of keeping the lake neat, tidy and attractive.
The Government needs to clarify as to how the entire process was going to be taken up keeping in view the Lake being considered as a Wetland of international importance as per Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as this Lake is blessed with waterfowl habitat and waterfowl habitat is under an International Treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Wetlands. What is stressed upon is that this Lake has an international importance as a Wetland , the first of its kind in South Asia and on account of that , it deserves to be prominently highlighted on the tourism canvas to attract tourists not only from within the country but from other countries as well. For that, associated and ancillary facilities of competitive levels need to be erected near the Lake like lodging with all comforts, medical, transport, recreation and the most important the facilities for sewage treatment and the like.
Critically appraising, the levels of absence of due attention, such lakes and natural ” boons ” gifted to the State have been subjected to, by the successive Governments and those people who do not value nature and natural gifts and are responsible for encroachments and muddying the waters, have gradually plummeted Dal and the Wular Lakes to the levels of pitiable conditions. Hopefully, Pangong has not queued up in that line as yet, the SIP project envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is poised to address such neglect in a wider and sustainable manner.
Everyone must play one’s part in this mission and that is why a consultation is reported to be in process for finalizing the Public Sector Undertakings and the corporate for extending support to the new sites as Corporate Social Responsibility.