An environmental relief for Pangong Lake?

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The high court has come to rescue the environment once again! Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh has seen mushrooming of camps and hotels with little to no regards for solid waste management, water management or effluent management. The post ‘3 Idiots’ and Instagram age has to lead to the uncontrolled mass tourism in Ladakh and the results are very visible when you visit Ladakh now as compared to 10 years back.

Trash that every tourist leaves behind (think of hot Maggie that comes out of plastic wrappers, cool drinks, Lays packets etc.) has a huge impact on the already fragile ecosystem. These high altitude lakes have not seen such levels of abuse before. A lot has already been said in one of our article on Ladakh: An environmental disaster in the making? so I will not repeat the same stuff.

Did you know that Pangong Lake is home to around 90 birds? Check out the citizen science eBird website where bird enthusiasts have recorded their bird observations at the Pangong Lake over the years.

High Court orders to remove camps & other structures from Pangong Lake

The court’s direction may prove as a relief to the environment when Ladakh is battling with a huge influx of tourists and its associated problems without any control whatsoever.

Chadar trek is suffering all sought of problems already as a result of unlimited trekking agencies flooding the space.

We only hope the state administration takes into consideration all the ecosystems it supports and conserves this pristine lake for generations to come! The locals should get respite from the order with legal setups though as it is their livelihood.

Maybe next time when you visit Pangong or any Himalayan region, please try to have a lesser ecological footprint. Bring your trash back with you where it can be safely disposed of/recycled to decrease the plastic waste.

You should always carry your own water bottle for refilling to reduce this plastic waste. It will not only keep you hydrated always but will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Please remember, every action however small, makes a lasting impact on our environment!

The honorable court has also ordered to seal even the illegal bore wells and hand pumps being operated without permission.

A Dark Day at Pangong Tso
A Dark Day at Pangong Tso

Here is the full excerpt from the full news article of this structure removal from Pangong Tso lake:

The High Court has directed the Leh district administration to remove all structures around the Pangong Lake. 

A bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan also directed the administration to take up the issue of shifting of the structures erected by army around the lake to any other area. 

The direction came after the court observed that the administration is required to take well planned, sustainable and scientific steps to prevent degradation or ultimate death of the lake.

“Not only this, a scheme/policy is also important to be formulated by the state government, if not already formulated, for preservation and conservation of Pangong Lake,” the court said. 

External Source LinkLeh administration asked to remove all structures around Pangong Lake.

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About Author

I am Lakshmi, a software professional living in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. I spend most of my holidays, long weekends on trips (Himalayan, wildlife safaris, birding, architecture etc.) and remaining of the days planning these trips! I am interested in photography (Landscapes, wildlife). I caught the Himalayan bug early on and fell in love with the mountains. The mountain keeps calling me every now and then; and we end up meeting as often as office leaves permit. On other days, I am either immersed in a book or would be watching movies.

13 Comments

  1. Comments section gets closed in 90 days. You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there !!

  2. Satyajib Bhattacharyya on

    Thank you Amit for a thorough schedule suggestion. Based on your suggestion, I have changed my plans of returning to Leh from Nubra and instead would now proceed directly to Pangong Tso (Hotel bookings have been rescheduled). However, due to other family constraints, spending an extra day in Leh for acclamatisation could not be managed. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  3. Hello Mr. Bhattacharya. Thanks for asking me about your upcoming trip.
    1st of all I would like to ask you how many people are your going.?Are you going with family or friends?
    I would like to answer as per my experience in Ladakh.
    It would have started Snowfall in some parts of Ladakh so weather would be very cold so carry Enough winter Clothes with you. You have made a short trip in which you have not give time to acclimatize yourself. Carry Diamox everytime with you.
    Don’t stop more than 10-15 minutes in Khardungla. As temperature wil surely be in minus and if there would be snowfall around your dates you can be stranded in between.
    You have made a mistake by going from Leh-Nubra and then coming back from Nubra-Leh and then proceed to Leh-Pangong and Pangong to Leh Back. This way you will be wasting your one day and then trip will also become more hectic and boring as you will follow the same path for To and Fro for Nubra and Pangong,
    I will suggest you to talk to the tent or Camp owner whom you have booked for Stay in Pangong. If he is ready to change the dates. He may change the dates on your request as this is not the tourist season and his camps or cottages might be empty.
    If I were u I would have followed the Itinerary like this.
    15th Leh Rest. Explore Leh market. Go to Shanti Stupa by taxi not on foot.
    16th Leh-Kargil Road by Bike till 40-50Km or go to lumaruyu 120 km from Leh in Taxi. Road is smooth and better than any national highways. Sightseeing in between.
    17th Leh-Nubra. Sand Dunes &Bacterian Camel Ride. Stay at Nubra Valley(Hunder).
    18th Nubra Valley-Pangong. Stay at Pangong.
    19th Pangong To Leh.
    20th Flight
    By this itinerary you would have given time to acclimatize yourself and you are not tiring your self and not making it boring and you are also covering Srinagar highway as well.
    1st of all talk to Pangong Camp or Tent owner if he he ready to give you refund for your booking if he is ready to cancel because some allows you to cancel the booking 15 days prior to stay. If not ready to cancel then ask him to change the dates. And follow the itinerary that I have provided. If you want I will provide you the contact details for Nubra Valley and Pangong Cottage Details For Stay. Nubra Valley Cottage was the best accomodation for our [email protected] Rs including Breakfast and Dinner for a couple with best quality food and service and also the view.
    It would be very hard for you to stay in Camps in Pangong if you have booked camp. In September it was so chilled and that is in Cottage so I don’t know what would happen in October when the weather would have been more chilled, If you have booked tent then try to cancel it on first place, if he is not ready then try to change the dates on priority.
    You can ask any further more queries. I would be happy to answer.

  4. S. Bhattacharyya on

    Dear Amit,
    Thank you for your offer to help. We are reaching Leh on 15th October. Proceeding to Nubra on 16th. Return to Leh on 17th. To Pangong on 18th. Again back to Leh on 19th. Return flight on 20th. Please guide. Accommodations are booked. If I would have seen your post before, could have saved some money. Already paid advance for stay at Pangong. Hope it will be operating till then, in view of the court order.

    • Hello Mr. Bhattacharya. Thanks for asking me about your upcoming trip.
      1st of all I would like to ask you how many people are your going.?Are you going with family or friends?
      I would like to answer as per my experience in Ladakh.
      It would have started Snowfall in some parts of Ladakh so weather would be very cold so carry Enough winter Clothes with you. You have made a short trip in which you have not give time to acclimatize yourself. Carry Diamox everytime with you.
      Don’t stop more than 10-15 minutes in Khardungla. As temperature wil surely be in minus and if there would be snowfall around your dates you can be stranded in between.
      You have made a mistake by going from Leh-Nubra and then coming back from Nubra-Leh and then proceed to Leh-Pangong and Pangong to Leh Back. This way you will be wasting your one day and then trip will also become more hectic and boring as you will follow the same path for To and Fro for Nubra and Pangong,
      I will suggest you to talk to the tent or Camp owner whom you have booked for Stay in Pangong. If he is ready to change the dates. He may change the dates on your request as this is not the tourist season and his camps or cottages might be empty.
      If I were u I would have followed the Itinerary like this.
      15th Leh Rest. Explore Leh market. Go to Shanti Stupa by taxi not on foot.
      16th Leh-Kargil Road by Bike till 40-50Km or go to lumaruyu 120 km from Leh in Taxi. Road is smooth and better than any national highways. Sightseeing in between.
      17th Leh-Nubra. Sand Dunes &Bacterian Camel Ride. Stay at Nubra Valley(Hunder).
      18th Nubra Valley-Pangong. Stay at Pangong.
      19th Pangong To Leh.
      20th Flight
      By this itinerary you would have given time to acclimatize yourself and you are not tiring your self and not making it boring and you are also covering Srinagar highway as well.
      1st of all talk to Pangong Camp or Tent owner if he he ready to give you refund for your booking if he is ready to cancel because some allows you to cancel the booking 15 days prior to stay. If not ready to cancel then ask him to change the dates. And follow the itinerary that I have provided. If you want I will provide you the contact details for Nubra Valley and Pangong Cottage Details For Stay. Nubra Valley Cottage was the best accomodation for our [email protected] Rs including Breakfast and Dinner for a couple with best quality food and service and also the view.
      It would be very hard for you to stay in Camps in Pangong if you have booked camp. In September it was so chilled and that is in Cottage so I don’t know what would happen in October when the weather would have been more chilled, If you have booked tent then try to cancel it on first place, if he is not ready then try to change the dates on priority.
      You can ask any further more queries. I would be happy to answer.

      • S. Bhattacharyya on

        Thank you Amit for a thorough schedule suggestion. Based on your suggestion, I have changed my plans of returning to Leh from Nubra and instead would now proceed directly to Pangong Tso (Hotel bookings have been rescheduled). However, due to other family constraints, spending an extra day in Leh for acclamatisation could not be managed. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  5. Amit Dhawan on

    I would like to update on the camping nearby Pangong Lake. I came back from Ladakh Trip yesterday only & stayed in cottage in spangmilk from 16th to 17th Sep. 1st of all I will like to update that camps and cottage are still operational over there, But this might be the last month of camping as some of the camps started packing up for the season. But my suggestion is don’t prebook any camp, as you will get lesser price over there as very less crowd was there. Most of the people were making day visit from Nubra or Leh, But for this you have to start around 6-7 a.m then. We started at 9 a.m from Nubra and we reached around 4 p.m near Pangong including 2 hours of breaks in between. We were charged 2000 for 1 night stay including breakfast and dinner in cottage. We took Himalayan Wooden Cottage in Spangmilk.
    My another suggestion is that, don’t take camp over there, Go for cottage if you want to stay over there near Pangong.There was so cold over there that even after taking 1 Quilt And 3 blanket it was chilled over there in the cottage and many of our group person felt shortness of breathe during that night stay and we had to take diamox. So it would be very very cold in Camps.
    There was not much activities to do near Pangong. You can just admire the beauty of Pangong and click hundred of photos.
    Nubra-Pangong Shyok Road is operational and it took 7 hours for us to reach over there including 2 hours of lunch and tea breaks.
    I stayed in Pangong and Nubra & if anyone want to have any queries for their upcoming trip I would be happy to assist.

    • Thank you so much Amit for these great updates on Pangong Tso camping getting banned and of course other tips. I am sure it will help many others

  6. Amit Dhawan on

    as I have heard that High Court has ordered to shut down camps nearby Pangong Lake. We are reaching Leh on 13th Sep and were planning to have night stay in Camps on 16th Sep nearby Pangong Lake. So now what can we do?
    Our itinerary will get change?
    Our plan Was like that.
    13 sep Reach Leh by Air. Rest
    14 Sep Local Sightseeing
    15 Sep Nubra Valley Stay
    16 Sep Nubra Valley-Pangong. Stay at Pangong.
    17th Back from Pangong to Leh
    18th River Rafting.
    19th Back to Delhi by Air

    Now if we come back from Pangong on 16th Sep by not staying at Pangong lake. What should we do on 17th Sep. Where should we go? Because 17th will be our free day then. Or We should take accomodation at some other place nearby Pangong Lake. And if we should do that Kindly provide the affordable and best option.
    Or whatever you feel we should change in Itinerary kindly provide the details.

    Thanks

  7. Amit Dhawan on

    We are visiting Leh on 13th Sep and were planning to night stay in Camp at Pangong Lake on 16th Sep. As the court has ordered to shut down camps, Are we not going to get accomodation over there in Camps. And if all the camps is going to shut down please provide the affordable and best option available nearby Pangong Lake.

    • Amit, what I understand from the order is that the camps which are illegally setup without permission will fall under the removal of this order. So, I do not think all camps (unless all were illegal) will be removed.

  8. Hi !
    Good move no doubt! Does that mean all construction, both permanent and temporary, to be removed? If so, what will happen to Spangmik, Maan and Merak villages, as I understand, locals are living there for many years, while tourism influx has caused the spread of commercial resort like tents in these villages. So is there any clarity on what will happen to them (both commercial and residential) as of now?

    There’s some more question- Does that mean there will be no tents (commercial) / home-stays near the lake- if so, where will people stay, if they wish to do so? And if someone like to bring their own tents- will they be allowed to pitch it there? – Or there will be some arrangements like that in the Chandratal, where you need to stay 2+ kms away from the Lake for the conservation of the nature.
    -there are lots of questions and we may not have clarity on all of them right now. But these clarification will help many.
    Thanks a lot in advance!!

    • Sayantan bhai, although things will get clear in few days and I will call few locals to get the understanding but this ban is for all illegal constructions and encroachments. Residential structures will not be moved IMO. Anything which is setup illegally without authorized permission will be taken away. I am sure there will be arrangement like that only that you will be allowed to stay some far away from the lake and around village pitching your own camps should be OK as even as per Ramsar site rules, the camps can be pitched 500 Mtrs way.


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