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Plans afoot to start an ice and snow sculpture festival in Ladakh, plantation of ‘Leh Berry’ from April

A file photo of Union Cabinet Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tasting Leh Berry in Ladakh (Image courtesy: Twitter/@naqvimukhtar)

An annual ice and snow sculpture festival could be held in Ladakh in future as the government plans introduction of snow sculpture in the Union Territory in a big way to attract tourists.

Ladakh Lieutenant Governor R K Mathur has sought support of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the aegis of ministry of Science and Technology for the outdoor snow art which has gained currency in the cold climes of the world.

Mathur, who met Science and Technology minister Jitendra Singh on Monday, said that once this art is stabilised, Ladakh will start the ice and snow sculpture festival in the coming years.

Saying that he sees "no logic" in people leaving Ladakh in winters when it is the time to earn, Mathur said that besides being a huge tourist attraction, the festival will also create job opportunities for the locals.

The LG had recently attended the concluding ceremony of first Ladakh Ice and Snow-Sculpture Workshop 2022 organised by Kangsing Snow and Ice Sculpture Association in association with Ladakh Police at Sangtakchan near Tsogsti on the way to Chilling on February 11.

Singh, meanwhile, thanked the Ladakh administration for taking a decision to start the commercial plantation of 'Leh Berry' from April-May this year. The CSIR is promoting 'Leh Berry', an exclusive food product of the cold desert and also a means of wide-ranging entrepreneurship as well as self-livelihood.

The minister referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Ladakh in May 2018, wherein the PM had strongly advised for widespread cultivation of sea buckthorn, which is also the source of 'Leh Berry'. He said that the CSIR will also develop harvesting machinery to be used by local farmers and self-help groups, as currently only 10% of berry is being extracted from the wild sea buckthorn plant.

Singh said that local entrepreneurs will be provided gainful employment through farming, processing and marketing of about 100 odd products from sea buckthorn plants like jams, juices, herbal tea, Vitamin C supplements, healthy drinks, cream, oils, and soaps in a completely organic manner.

The LG informed that commercial cultivation of three medicinal plants will begin this spring season at the height of above 15,000 feet. This includes 'Sanjeevni Booti', locally known as 'Sola' which has very high life-saving and therapeutic properties.

The minister revealed that the Department of Atomic Energy will set up facilities in the UT for Gamma Irradiation Technology for preservation/shelf life extension of fruits and vegetables. He was happy to note that for the first time huge quantities of Apricot were exported to Dubai.

He also complimented CSIR for organizing four training workshops, two each at Leh and Kargil, for treatment of diseases of famous Pashmina Goats. Charthang in Ladakh has over 4 lakh animals, mainly pashmina goats, a very rich source of livelihood.

A high level team of senior scientists from CSIR will also visit Ladakh this summer to evaluate the Zinc Fortification project for Pashmina Goats, Sheep and Yak. The CSIR is contemplating to start a Geo-Thermal Energy Project for warming and cooling systems in a Zero-net energy programme by linking it with solar power.

The opening of Zojila Pass has brought a huge relief for the local population which has thanked PM Modi for giving a high priority to the young Union Territory.

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