In a spectacular ceremony the Ice stupa form of artificial glacier was inaugurated today in Phyang village. His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpochey (DKC) in the presence of Chairman of Ladakh Hill Council Sh. Rigzin Spalbar and Padmashri Chhewang Norpbhel, officers from the Armed Forces and villagers from Phyang and surrounding areas, performed a special prayer on the occasion which was followed by a colourful cultural performance.

Giving an introduction about the Ice Stupa concept Sonam Wangchuk (SW) said that the inspiration for the project comes from two very special people… HH DKC and Padmashri C Norphel. He said that the current stupa is a pilot project and at 50 feet height it is only half the size of the original plan. This was due to the late start of the project owing to poor quality pipes breaking in transportation. He said that the current stupa stored roughly 2 million litres of water while another 6 million litres had been absorbed in the ground which would add moisture to the earth and would finally be available to the tree plantation below.

However he said the future potential in Phyang village is for 80 to 90 stupas, each holding roughly 10 million litres of water, which would be sufficient to green the entire desert of Phyang (1,500 Acres) using modern techniques like drip irrigation. Talking of finances he said that the project was financed by crowd-funding with donations coming from individuals from around the world and finally raising USD 125,000. This amount he said was not for just this year but for the infrastructure for the overall project that could last decades.

Sonam Wangchuk and all the roughly 1,500 people present joined hands to thank M/s Jain Irrigation and Indian Air force for saving the pilot project by donating and airlifting 2.3 Km of HDPE pipes. He also thanked Essel Group from Mumbai who made the biggest contribution during the crowd-funding campaign by doubling every contribution in the last week and finally contributing USD 47,000. The CEO of Essel World Mumbai Mr. Shirish Deshpande was present on the occasion. He also thanked The Indian Army’s Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre for providing soldiers to lay and bury the pipes. He thanked Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology for support with emergency pipes and the Institute of Mountain Environment Jammu University for offering to conduct impact assessment studies for the Ice Stupa project. He expressed gratitude to the After-School Alternative school in Phyang for providing their Solar Hostel as a base for the project and BSNL for connecting this base to the world through Broadband.

Sh. Rigzin Spalbar Chairman of the Ladakh Hill Council said in his speech that there is no reason such a project could not succeed, he further expressed hope that this could be replicated in other areas also. He thanked HH DKC for supporting holistic development in Ladakh and welcoming the pilot project. Stressing the need for partnerships he assured the people of Phyang that his government would be always be ready to support such projects in any manner possible.

Sh. C Norphel popularly known as the Ice Man spoke on the occasion and expressed hope that younger engineers would apply their knowledge and skills to solve the daily life problems of the people.

HH DKC Said that Buddhism preached working for the betterment of this life as well as the next life and therefore it is only natural for us to work for the improvement of lives of people in need. He said that projects like Ice Stupa will bring a good name not just for a person or a village but for the whole of Ladakh in combating serious issues like climate change. His Holiness thanked all the individuals, organisations and agencies that helped with the project.

Finally HH DKC distributed certificates to the young volunteers who made the Ice Stupa pilot project possible.
Namely… Stanzin Norbu Shara, Lobzang Dadul Phobrang, Yasin Ahmed Chiktan, Sajjad Hussain Chiktan Sonam Dorje Wakha, Thupstan Dawa, Tsering Phuntsog Shara. Three of the volunteers are from Kargil so that the know-how can finally reach Kargil region. Apart from them Mira Desai and Dilip Jain from Mumbai were also felicitated for their role in the crowd funding campaign.

After the ceremony all the people gathered went and planted 5,000 trees in the desert below the ice stupa. Meanwhile HH Chetsang RInpochey and the dignitaries present also planted seabuck thorn specimens from different parts of Ladakh and the world while inaugurating a small seabuck thorn nursery near the ice stupa.