Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns kicked off a green drive for the Commonwealth Games at Leh on Sunday.
Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and IT, and Thuksey Rinpochey, representative of Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa lineage, led the planting of 1016 Ladakh willow and poplar trees near the ancient Hemis Monastery.
The massive plantation programme 11,000 feet above sea level was aimed at helping check soil erosion in the cloudburst-hit dry region.
The drive — aimed at planting a million trees — will culminate during the Commonwealth Games on October 10, when the organisers hope to set a world record of planting the maximum number of trees in an hour.
The plantation will be spread across eight blocks around Leh town and add 82 hectares of green area to the existing 11,000 hectares of forest cover in the Ladakh region.
At the Hemis monastery, Rinpochey said, “I am sure this drive by the people of Ladakh will spur several such initiatives for a cleaner, greener India.”
Pilot described it as “timely” and “big boost to the fight against deforestation and desertification” in the region. He said he was “humbled” to know that one of the eight blocks of forest would be named after him.
He added that his ministry was spending R45 crore for reconstruction and expansion of telecom infrastructure, which was damaged in the cloudburst last month.
“We tried to restore communication facilities as soon as possible. Massive efforts are being undertaken to rebuild the infrastructure that was reduced to zero due to the cloudburst,” Pilot said.