Sonam Wangchuk is a 50-year-old engineer from Leh but locally he is better known as the guy who inspired Aamir Khan’s famous character ‘Phunsukh Wangdu’ in the 2009 blockbuster, 3 Idiots.
Sonam, along with four other innovators from across the world, has received the Rolex Award for Enterprise 2016. The award was presented to Sonam in Los Angeles on Tuesday, reports NDTV. He has received the award for building ‘ice stupas’ that act as artificial glaciers and have significantly reduced the problem of water shortage in the arid region of Ladakh.
The people of Ladakh primarily depend on farming, but have been struggling hard to fight climate change over the past few decades. To battle the situation, Sonam has built ice stupas that store winter water in the form of 40-metre-high mountains made of ice. These act as glaciers during winter and provide enough water to irrigate 10 hectares of land.
Sonam’s project started two years ago. Today the desert landscape has turned green, and the level of groundwater in the area has risen significantly too. Sonam told The Indian Express, “I’m not doing anything revolutionary. It is ninth-standard science put to use. We mountain people have to find new ways to work with nature, not against it.”