Engineer-turned-education reformer and environmentalist Sonam Wangchuk posted on the social media platform that he intends to observe a five-day “Climate Fast” at the world’s highest motorable road at Khardungla Pass. It will be the first of its kind, an utterly carbon-neutral fast. Along with demanding the Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, Wangchu will demonstrate various solar-powered carbon-neutral lifestyle products.
Why is Sixth Schedule important for Ladakh?
It is vital to comprehend the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to grasp the reason for the protest. The Sixth Schedule concerns the administration of tribal areas in northeastern states and establishes Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) with powers to govern certain matters and make laws. These councils are made up of elected members with a Governor’s Agent to oversee their function and act as a liaison with the state government. The Sixth Schedule aims to provide self-government for tribal communities and protect their traditional customs and practices.
Ladakh is an “Eco-Sensitive Zone,” so protecting the area’s fragile ecosystem and cultural heritage is essential. It is known for its unique culture, biodiversity, and renewable energy potential. However, the region faces ecological challenges due to urbanization, increased tourism, and the over-exploitation of resources. Climate change and global warming are exacerbating the challenges, and environmental issues such as waste management, pollution, and degradation of habitats are affecting the local communities. So they are demanding Ladakh be put under the Sixth schedule, which could protect their environment and tradition.
History of demand made by Ladakh and Sonam Wangchuk
After the decision to the Abrogation of article 370 and the creation of Ladakh as a Union Territory in August 2019, the leaders and social workers from Ladakh have been demanding a place in the Sixth Schedule to Ladakh. The Centre has also responded positively to this demand, but the legislation still needs to be made.
The environmentalist fear that the incursion of capitalist infrastructure in Ladakh will destroy the flora and Fauna of the area. They cite the already rising scarcity of water in various districts of Ladakh. Several protests have been launched to protect Ladakh, including one at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Wangchuk’s initiative is the latest and most influential among its predecessors.
It is not the first time Wangchuk is protesting for Ladakh. On November 13, 2021, he made a plea on Twitter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the upcoming Leh airport in Ladakh aligns with the goal of a carbon-neutral region. His efforts ensured that Ladakh today has the carbon-neutral airport in India. Furthermore, PM announced carbon-neutral Ladakh, various initiatives in this direction are being taken with several projects, such as the installation of the solar cooking device in households, the promotion of the construction of passive solar buildings, sustainable homestay tourism, the introduction of electric vehicles and solar-powered charging stations, focus on drip irrigation and other energy-efficient methods of micro-irrigation such as ponds or Dzings to maximize the use of existing water resources, etc., are being planned and worked out.
This carbon-neutral fast is gaining mass support all over India. Leaders and celebrities are coming in support over social media. His direct appeal to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, if heard Ladakh, will be included in the Sixth Schedule in the coming months.