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Inspiration behind Aamir’s ‘3 Idiots’ Sonam Wangchuk bags Rolex award for enterprise

The awards were presented on Tuesday in Los Angeles to those "who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism.”

Remember Phunsuk Wangdu? A character from Actor Aamir Khan’s 2009 blockbuster ‘3 idiots’? The character was not fictional and it was based on Sonam Wangchuk, a 50-year-old engineer from Leh. Sonam has now bagged the prestigious Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2016 for an innovation called ‘Ice stupas’.

The awards were presented on Tuesday in Los Angeles to those “who have reshaped the world with their innovative thinking and dynamism.” Sonam’s ‘Ice Stupas’ project is among the five winners this year at the awards, reported NDTV. The awards are an international philanthropic programme that supports new and ongoing projects by individuals that will eventually benefit mankind.
Wangchuk, an engineer has invented ‘Ice Stupas’ in an attempt to solve the problem of lack of water for agriculture in the desert landscapes of the western Himalayas.

Wangchuk was certain that access to water in the desert landscapes of Ladakh region, which faces acute water shortage during the April-May early crop-growing period, could be improved if the huge seasonal outflow of glacial water could be frozen.

In order to solve the problem of water in the region, Wangchuk built ‘ice stupas’ that act as artificial glaciers and have significantly reduced the problem of water shortage in the arid region of Ladakh. These stupas slowly release irrigation water for the growing season.

As his project needed financial assistance he launched a crowdfunding campaign that paid for a 2.3 km pipeline to direct glacial streams down to the village desert, lasted until early July, supplying 1.5 million litres of meltwater to 5,000 saplings planted by locals.

In addition to engineer, he is also an educationist. Through his alternative school the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL)  he has started work on establishing an alternative university in the same area. His objective is to engage young people from the Himalayas and beyond in eco-solutions for mountain areas.

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