LEH: The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) has decided to design a software to charge environment fee online for the convenience of tourists and to bring transparency to the system.
LAHDC Leh Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) Dr. Sonam Dawa Lonpo convened a meeting to discuss about the utilization of environmental fees charged from tourists visiting Leh on Saturday. The meeting was attended by EC Works Dorjey Mutup, EC Agriculture Tsering Wangdus, EC Animal & Sheep Husbandry Mumtaz Hussain, all the councilors, nominated councilors, Administrator Municipal Committee, AD Tourism, Wildlife Warden, President All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA), Hotel Association and Taxi Union.
Addressing the meeting, CEC informed that at present under the account head of environment fees a total of Rs 3 crore has been collected which besides environment fees includes rent of Ladakh House, Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra, Conference Hall, shooting charges and amount charged from non-residential students. He said that the objective of collecting environment fees is to generate income resource for Council to make itself sustainable in some ways and to cut down the dependency on government fund which is meager to meet all the developmental needs and demands. “We cannot wait for government money to provide with facilities to promote tourism and it’s mandatory to take initiatives at our level to address the issues. It can only be achieved if we work in unity ensuring collective and coordinate efforts by all the stakeholders involved,” Dr Dawa said.
During the meeting it was decided unanimously to make payment of environment fees online for domestic tourists also to ensure transparency in the system. It was also decided to enhance the environmental fee for both foreign and domestic tourists from next year onwards and CEC urged the concern stakeholders to come up with a fee structure in the follow up meeting to be held in next 2-3 days. He also asked them to come up with innovative measures to create awareness among tourists in keeping our district clean and convey a strong message to every outsider of our commitment to ensure cleanliness and become a role model for others to follow. He ensured that utilization of the fee collected will be made very judiciously in a fair manner on priority basis and measures decided will be implemented in letter and spirit at the earliest.
Collection of environment fee from tourists entering Leh started in 2012.
Among the issues discussed CEC suggested on audio message in taxis to create awareness about dos and don’ts for tourist in Ladakh, provision of oxygen facility in all the hotels and taxis, decentralization of tourists, toilet facilities on way to tourist destinations, awareness program to taxi drivers, etc. Dr Dawa informed that soon an oxygen plant is going to be set up in Leh that will provide oxygen refill on nominal rates, besides a pre fabricated structure of oxygen café with ambulance and toilet facilities will be made available at Khardong-la and Chang-la top.