India eco-school: Is that this the greenest campus on Earth?


Picture caption

The college’s surrounding mountainous panorama is nearly devoid of vegetation as it’s above the tree line

Secmol is a college pioneering sensible inexperienced training in one of many world’s harshest environments.

Its campus is perched almost 11,000ft (three,350m) up within the pre-Himalayan mountains alongside the Indus River in Ladakh, within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Road sign

The teenage pupils at Secmol (College students’ Academic and Cultural Motion of Ladakh) lack wi-fi and nearly all cellphone protection, in an space solely accessible by air in the course of the lengthy harsh winter when deep snow renders roads out of the province impassable.

The encircling mountainous panorama is nearly devoid of vegetation as it’s above the tree line.


Drone footage of schoolPicture copyright
Sumedh Chaphekar

The college even units its personal time zone to maximise daylight, which additionally reminds each pupil and customer that once they go the gates they’re getting into a special world.

Pupils are all from the common Ladakhi college system and solely those that have failed their 12 months 10 exams are permitted to attend. There are additionally a variety of college college students who type a core a part of the neighborhood together with the lecturers.

Child helping prepare food in kitchen

College director Konchok Norgay defined to the BBC that the scholars study concerning the setting for an hour or two every day.

In a typical maths lesson, they could calculate if the water from the spring is sufficient for tree planting, or work out the effectivity of the photo voltaic cooker that they use for heating water.

Mirrors used to harness the sun's intense heat

The photo voltaic cooker seems spectacular, with mirrors crafted to catch the cruel daylight, focusing their energy to create intense warmth.

However it’s at the moment solely used to boil water for tea.

Water is boiled using natural light

Norgay proudly confirmed off his experimental biogas methane digester, which is powered by slurry.

Dung is blended with water after which positioned in a protracted tube and left for a number of days.

Secmol's director Konchok Norgay

The gasoline rises to the highest, and is filtered by metal wool to make sure the gasoline doesn’t corrode the oven, earlier than reaching a plastic inflatable reserve tank.

“It is incredible as not solely do you utilize much less industrial gasoline, however you utilize pure supplies as a substitute,” pupil Stanzin Sungrab says. “And we are able to use the slurry waste as fertiliser within the kitchen backyard.”

Every pupil should carry out day by day accountability shifts and develop their confidence with nightly displays to the remainder of the college and guests.

Stanzin has spent many hours creating relationships with Karjama, Thotkar and Sheyma, the campus cows.

Cow shed

When college students should not on the 04:00 breakfast preparation shift, the day begins at 07:00 with a seven-minute group meditation.

College students are inspired to concentrate on objectives for the day over a meal of chilly roti bread and home made apricot jam.

The apricot stones are despatched to a neighbouring monastery, the place the kernels are recycled into apricot oil.

apricot seeds for recycling

Innovation is hard-wired into the structure of the campus, challenged by an setting the place winter temperatures usually attain -15C to -25C, and summer time can typically peak at 30C.

Ladakh has longstanding environmental credentials – even when the current sprouting of huge concrete resorts and growing air pollution within the capital Leh are difficult its inexperienced report.

“We banned plastic baggage right here 30 years in the past,” says Sonam Gatso, who operates an area inexperienced organisation.

Sonam additionally believes native Buddhist tradition helps promote environmental consciousness. “We attempt to be compassionate as we consider in Karma – cause-and-effect. For those who do unsuitable to anybody else or the setting, unsuitable will come to you.”

Girl peels eggs

Secmol is a powerful college, however how far can its classes lengthen past its progressive however remoted campus?

Urgain Nurbu, a former Secmol pupil who’s now dwelling on campus once more, has been so impressed by what he learnt that he organised an environmental youth camp in his distant village.

College student Urgain Nurbu

The camp-goers make rain jackets from previous plastic, and Urgain invitations environmental audio system to encourage the younger individuals.

One graduate has began her personal eco-travel firm, one other makes environmentally-themed movies.

Shara, an architectural pupil, is now experimenting with creating pre-fabricated constructing blocks from mud, wooden shavings and straw.


She is a part of a workforce designing a brand new college within the space which plans to show eco-tourism and inexperienced structure, scaling the affect of concepts nurtured in Secmol’s pioneering ambiance.

For now, the college’s affect is achieved by remodeling particular person mindsets to create a way of shared accountability.

“My grandfather instructed me how quiet and exquisite our village was once and there have been fish within the river,” pupil Padma Doma instructed the BBC.

“That is why it is so necessary to me to guard our treasured setting. Sooner or later, possibly it may be like that once more.

Padma Dolma shows food box

“I need to go house and persuade my household to segregate their rubbish. Will they pay attention? Maybe not, however I’ll attempt, and if I see someone throwing away a packet, I’ll choose it up.”

Stanzin feels that is “a extremely crucial time for our planet”.

“In our properties we throw away rubbish however right here we recycle. In our properties we throw away plastic however right here we use it for insulation.”

Because the setting is so harsh, Ladakhis are very aware of refined adjustments within the climate, and have turn out to be more and more conscious of local weather change, he says.

“Final 12 months, we did not have a lot snow so there’s not sufficient snowmelt within the springtime. As a result of we’re so excessive up and every part have to be treasured, you study to grasp the worth of the smallest drop of water.”

List of things that impact the environment

All pictures Emily Kasriel except indicated. Topic to copyright.

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