THE LEGEND'S WAY
In 1986, Chewang Norphel, as a civil engineer with the Jammu and Kashmir Rural Development Department took inspiration from his childhood observations and made a breakthrough by devising the first artificial glacier in picturesque Leh. His innovation helped to solve a water crisis faced by the local community, of which at least 80 per cent were farmers growing barley and wheat. Spurred by the success of his experiment, he went on to create 17 such artificial glaciers across Ladakh.
Most of his projects received financial aid from several state-run programmes, the army and various national and international NGOs. Now an 80-year-old source of inspiration, Norphel's journey was not easy, as people initially used to laugh at him and called him "pagal" (crazy) when he was making his first artificial glacier in Phukte village. But that did not deter him as all he saw was a grave problem which needed a solution that he could provide.
Norphel doesn't believe in sitting idle. He is either seen meditating in his room, spending time with his wife or in his kitchen garden where he experiments on how climate change can be used for the benefit of community by growing vegetables. He sees both the positive and negative aspects of climate change and believes in making the best use of them. He was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2015. He was also recognised for his achievements by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2011.