CES Technical Report 123, February 2011
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EMP: Environment Management Plan


There have been a number of investigations in the Himalayan lakes where various studies had been carried out (Zutshi, 1989; Omkar & Sharma, 1994-95; Jain et al., 1999, Kumar et al. 1999a, Kumar et al. 1999b, Das and Dhiman, 2003; Shewa, 1998, Rai et al 2006, 2007). The physico-chemical characteristics of five lakes as Mansar, Surinsar, Dal, Tso morari, Tsokarand Renuka were investigated by Singh, et al. (2008). There has been many studies based on both physico-chemical and biological characteristics have been carried out by Zutshi (1985, 1989); Chandra Mohan (1992) and Gupta (1992) on Mansar lake.Lakes of Jammu and Kashmir are different in their morphology and  thermal  behaviour  and  vary  from  sub-tropical monomictic  to  dimictic  type. Rai  et  al. (2001)  performed  studies  on  bathymetry,  rate  of sedimentation  and  water  quality  of  Mansar  lake during 1998-99. Few studies have also been reported for  the  Renuka  lake,  which  include  mainly morphometry,  general  water  quality  and  catchment related  aspects  of  the  Renuka  Lake  (Singh  et.  al, 1987).  The water quality of the largest high altitude lake Pangong Tso is seldom analyzed and interpreted. Therefore the study was carried out aiming to monitor the status of the lake and analyze the variations in the physico-chemical properties.

Water quality analysis: The earlier studies made by singh et al (2008) on the water quality for the lakes of Ladakh region ((Tsomoriri and Tsokar) were compared with Pangong Tso lake, (present study). The pangong tso and the other lakes were found to show very distinct characteristics due to prevailing cold desert type climate having a very low rainfall in the order of 100 mm. As such, unusually a very high concentration of certain water quality parameters viz.  pH,  Total  Dissolved  Solids,  Total  Hardness,  Chloride,  calcium,  magnesium  were  obtained  in  Pangong Tso as also in Tsomoriri and Tsokar lakes of Ladakh region, which  may  be  treated  as  brackish  water.  The  data  of  DO  indicated  that  hypolimnion  of  the  Himalayan  lakes  remain mostly  under  anoxic conditions condition (Singh et al, 2008). During the present study a positive ORP (50-77 mV) clearly shows aerobic nature of the surface water. The high salt concentration in the lake is attributed to higher evaporation rates as well as links with ancient marine systems (Link to Tethys sea). A very high pH is indicative more of a carbonate rich inorganic C system. The sources of the same again may be attributed to the local hydrogeology of the lake.  The  lakes  also  remain  stratified  during  summer  and  become  overturn  during  winter  months.  The minimal nutrient content in the lake (Table 8) clearly depicts its oligotrophic state.

Table 8:  A comparative account of the water quality of Ladakh lakes.
Parameters Tsomorari Tsokar Pangong
      Study Site adj. merek
Study Singh et al., 2008 Present  Study, Nov 2010
District Leh Leh Leh Leh
Latitude 33.516584 33.310395 33.79464 33.8012
Longitude 78.913344 78.025007 78.61736 78.606
Altitude (m) 4527 4225 4253 4253
Max. Depth (m) 30 -- 30.48 100
Area (Sq km) 141.05 0.55 600 600
pH 8.96 8.82 9.39 9.42
Salinity (ppm) -- -- 9702 4967
EC (μS/cm) 3550 63 530 19985 10232
ORP (mV) -- -- 77 50
Turbidity (NTU) -- -- 0.97 0.9
TDS (ppm) 2272 40659 13776 7053
BOD (ppm) - - 0.01 0.4
Alkalinity (ppm) - - 2250 2450
HCO3 (ppm) 1 4 150 175
CO3 (ppm) - - 2400 2650
TH (ppm) 3161 19743 2332 2280
Chlorides (ppm) 24 9028 5916 3029
Phosphates (ppm) 0.03 0.3 0.02 0.014
Nitrates (ppm) - - 0.04 0.09
Sodium (ppm) 791 1061 7400 500
Potassium (ppm) 209 1715 1163 75
Calcium (ppm) 35 1300 732 684
Magnesium (ppm) 747 4010 123 139

Environmental Impacts:

The proposed NLST at Merak near Pangong lake would involve the commission and operation of modified reflecting Gregorian-type telescope that would deliver images of small part of the sun (300” ×300”) onto instrument stations mounted on the telescope and on a rotating platform located below the telescope. NLST is expected to create at least 50 jobs for locals at various levels. The schools and colleges in the area will be informed about the goals of NLST and solar astronomy will be introduced to them at an appropriate level for recruitment and collaborations on specific tasks. The facilities would include:

  • The observatory facility, which includes the telescope (kept at a height of nearly 26 m), its pier, and the rotating instrument platform,
  • The enclosure for telescope,
  • The telescope building with a diameter of approximately 15 m.
  • An aluminizing chamber at a separate location sufficiently far off from the site.
  • The electricity required would be through PV based solar panels (similar to the facility at Hanle).
  • The living quarters for the telescope maintenance and observing staff would be located at a convenient place far from the telescope site.

Environmental Impacts associated with the project: The most significant issues which are likely to occur are:

  1. During the construction phase local disturbance in the sanctuary region (movement of vehicles and transport of materials).
  2. Increase in the human activity adjacent to Pangong lake that might affect the water quality of the region.
  3. Increased employment scope of the project would attract human setllements in and around the proposed site, which might affect the ambience and characteristics of the place.
  4. Increase in economy in the years to come due to the project would entertain more anthropogenic stress on the wild life as well as the local vegetation.
  5. The higher quantum of heat generated at the focus of the 2 m mirror and its dissipation.
  6. Heat generated and its diversion to the environment.
  7. Disturbance in the bird migration due to the telescope and associated optical properties -The exposure of the illumination/reflectance or the glare to the birds which may affect their migration or attract/distract them from the water body in their due course of migration.

Construction phase: During the construction phase, there are likelihood of local disturbance of the silent and prestine ecosystem. The transfer of raw materials as well as the very movement of vehicles and consequent dust and noise distracts birds. Also, it should be kept in the mind the proposed site has a mixed origin which are parts of sedimentary deposits. This also necessitates pre feasibility investigations of the proposed site from the stability of the structures.

Operation Phase: During the operation of the telescope special care must be taken to restrict the highly focused and concentrated light getting into the immediate environment, which attracts avian population. The very reflection and glare might disturb the birds passing by the region.
The heat generated formed at around the focus needs to be dissipated in the dispersed form. This is to avoid local warming. This may affect the local/ regional ecology.

As the salinity of the water is around 10, 000 mg/l. Special care should be taken for the metals like Fe and Cu, which have ample chances of a very high corrosion. Periodic paints or usage of light wt. alloys would prevent such occurrences frequently.

Earlier reports and findings reveal the levels of water of the Pangong lake has been increasing slowly and there is gradual submersion of the some of the elevated regions along the beaches of the lake. Therefore appropriate steps should be taken to avoid occurrence of possible submersion of the project site and associated equipments. Necessary mitigation measures have to be taken for avoiding any loss due to the increase in the water level.

EMP: Environment Management Plan

Merak near Pangong lake  is the most suitable site for commissioning and operation of National Large Solar Telescope. The activities will involve minimal environmental impacts. Setting up of NLST would boost the region as it would provide employment opportunities, and associate benefits (like medical facilities, education, etc.) to the local people. This also gives visibility to the region in the global perspective and might prevent further land encroachments. Bird’s death is reported in migratory path sue to Sky scrapers which are constantly lit (high intensity illumination).
The location being  the protrusion near Merak at 33° 47' 42" N, 78° 37' 08" E, close to the Pangong Tso Lake  (of sedimentary deposits) do not have vegetation.  Planting of native species of plants would help the local environment.

  • The excavation materials need to be will be relocated within the allotted land (and should not be dumped closer to the lake).
  • The building construction should be stored in the enclosures so that the dust does not get into the surrounding environment.
  • No solid, liquid or gaseous effluents to the environment due to the operation of NLST.  This involves:
    • The organic fraction of solid waste will be treated (either through aerobic or anaerobic options)
    • Restriction on usage of plastics in the colony
    • Sewage from colony households (including the NLST complex and guest house) will be treated before discharging to the lake.

The insolation is captured by an array of mirrors (1, 2, 3 etc). The primary mirror (of 2 m diameter) focusing the entire beam of rays into a 3 cm small receptor, which in turn is used for capture of solar processes through polarization. This process generates enormous heat. The heat stops and the field stops are designed to check and capture maximum heat generated around the first focus.

In the design provision the sun as a whole will be tracked by the movement of the telescope which orients itself perpendicular to the incoming sunrays. Therefore maximum amount of the rays will be focused and a very less amount is reflected. Emphasis will be given on the safety of the spider network of metal trusses through proper orientation of the telescope before any exposure of the primary mirror.

To address the quantity of the light reflected into the environment which might possibly affect the bird path and their migration the reflecting light and heat will be directed towards the ground which would cover a distance of 40 m before touching the ground rather than allowing the heat and light towards the sky. The special design and arrangement made incorporated into NLST would reflect the solar beam side-wards during the morning and evening hrs and downwards during the mid day. This design essentially ensures that the energy density at the ground would be 400 times lesser than the normal sunshine intensity. The highly focused and energy intensive bright spot 3 cm in diameter would only appear with in the cone, which do not affect the birds in proximity and their migration course. In addition to this, ultrasonic sound waves would be used to ward off birds.

Environment Management Plan thus would include:

  • Suppression of dust during the movement of vehicles –operation phase
  • Construction work and movement of vehicles only during the day time so that fauna are not affected during the night.

At site:

  • Shadow plate covering the primary mirror protects it from the vision of birds. 
  • The mitigation measure involves change in angle to 30 degrees at the heat stop so that the reflection from the heat stop is diffused and directed towards a far off point in the ground and hence flying bird/birds are insulated from any reflections.
  • Use of low energy ultrasound transmitters to ward off the birds around the telescope in an area of around half an acre.
  • Planting of native species of flora would aid as heat sinks
  • Setting up science centre and primary health centre for the employees and local public (part of the social commitment)

In this context, considering the proposed building height of NLST building and implementation of the suggested mitigation measures (Shadow plate covering the primary mirror protects it from the vision of birds; change in angle to 30 degrees at the heat stop so that the reflection from the heat stop is diffused and directed towards a far off point in the ground and hence flying bird/birds are insulated from any reflections and use of low energy ultrasound transmitters to ward off the birds around the telescope in an area of around half an acre) would minimise the impact on birds.


We are grateful to Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Koramanagala, Bangalore for assigning this task to us. We thank Prof. Thushar Prabhu and Prof.Rangarjan for vital inputs during the discussion and taking us to wonderful picturesque region.  Dorje Angchuk shared his local knowledge during the field work.  Me.Saleem, Wildlife warden provided the information related to the sanctuary and Ramsar wetlands.


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