Sonam Wangchuk, the man who inspired Aamir Khan’s character from ‘3 Idiots’ received the Rolex Awards for Enterprises 2016, for his new project ‘Ice Stupas’ on Tuesday at Los Angeles. His project was one of the five winners that evening.
The 50-year old Leh engineer created artificial glaciers or as he call it ‘Ice Stupas’ to help solve the problem of lack of water for agriculture in the desert landscapes of the western Himalayas.
As per a statement released by Rolex, Wangchuk said that the Rolex award funds will support and promote his project. Wangchuk, is planning to built 20 such ice stupas, 30 meters high and capable of supplying millions of liters of water.
Wangchuk is also working on establishing an alternative university which will engage the youth of Ladakh and other mountain regions and make them capable enough to solve their own problems.
Here are some salient points about the ‘Ice Stupas’
- In 2014 Wangchuk and some students of The Students’ Educational And Cultural Movement In Ladakh (SECML) started with this unique approach of taking excess water from an upstream river during the winter months and directing it via gravity with the aid of pipes and sprinklers, and froze the water in the cold winter temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius.
- It was observed that due to smaller surface area the the artificial glacier melts approximately 5 times slower than the natural snow.
- Since, the shape of this frozen ice is similar to Buddhist mud stupas, they affectionately named the project as ‘The Ice Stupa Project.’
- The first stupa remained frozen at relatively low altitudes until May, storing approximately 150,000 litres and reaching a height of 6 metres.
- Wangchuck’s target is to set on multiple ice stupas in the valley at heights of 30 metres storing 10 million litres of water each.
- Ladakhi poplar and willow trees require approximately 10 litres of water a day, Wangchuk estimates that a full sized stupa could potentially sustain up to 20,000 trees through the currently dry April to June period.
To know how the Ice Stupas work watch this video
The Rolex award recognizes and appreciates the achievements in the field of science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment and cultural heritage.
We hope that Wangchuk’s project gains a lot of success and more people are inspired by him.
Know more about his project
Image source: indianexpress
Video source: youtube