TSEWANG RIGZINLEH: The picturesque Pangong Lake, which falls under Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, in the eastern part of Ladakh is yet again in the limelight after residents of Spangmik, a village located near the famous lake, reportedly marched towards Chinese border on Wednesday morning in protest against District Administration’s demolition drive to dismantle illegal tourist camps near Pangong Lake. According to sources Spangmik residents left their livestock locked at home and marched towards Chinese border. They were later stopped by Army at Border Personal Meeting (BPM) Point. Councillor Chushul Constituency Stanzin Konchok said that Pangong dispute has been there between the administration and residents for quite sometime and administration should find an amicable solution without hurting the sentiments of local residents of the villages around Pangong Lake. While former Councillor of the area Tsering Angchok told on phone that the administration carried out demolition drive in the area and destroyed number of tourist camps owned by locals. He claimed that administration didn’t demolish Wildlife Department structures raised in the same area and said that rule should be same for all. Terming the situation as critical Angchok alleged that it is an injustice to the residents of the area for not being allowed to carry out business activities on their own land. District Administration has reportedly allotted alternative land to the people of the area to raise camps away from the Lake and notice in this regard has also been served several times. Apparently the administration has direction from the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir also to remove illegal infrastructures that existed close to the lake. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the district administration is in the process of sorting the issue out although no official comment was given by the administration. The picturesque Pangong Lake has been drawing the attention of thousands of tourists every year, mostly domestic, mainly after the release of Bollywood blockbuster film ‘3 Idiots’. Tourist camps established and constructions took place over the last one decade are all said to be illegal and in the past the Wildlife Department had issued notices to the restaurants and camp runners for immediate removal of establishments and even cautioned that department of wildlife protection would be forced to forfeit illegal constructions as the area falls under Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary. Raising infrastructure on the shore of Pangong Lake in Changthang Cold Desert Wild Life Sanctuary is said to be a clear violation of J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act 1978 amended up to 2002.
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