Leh witnessed a strike: revolt against self-drive private rental cars Is the beauty of Ladakh on the verge of decline?

By Stanzin Desal LEH, Jul 24, 2015
One day strike (Chakka Jam) called in Leh on 22nd July from morning 6AM to 8PM. The strike is called up by the Tourist transporters, Maxi Cab Union, Bikers association and Ladakh Taxi Operator Co-operative Ltd. 

The strike is supported by all the Religious heads, Political Parties, ALTOA, All transporters, Merchant Association, Hoteliers, Restaurant associations and Organizations.

The reason behind this strike is to take action against the private self-drive rental cars and bikes of tourist who in the name of visiting and admiring the beauty of Ladakh is creating havoc and destroying the fragile ecosystem of Ladakh. Whereas, the entry of outside private cabs in the local taxi market has put the livelihood of the local drivers at stake.
Presently thousands of Ladakhi youths are employed and directly depended in this sector, thus, necessary permanent solution should be made by the administration on this issue, to protect this important industry to sustain it for future and to stop the exploitation made to the environment, economy and culture.   

On the issue a resolution has been passed unanimously by the Hill Council, Social , political and religious leaders in order to find a solution to the problem and to implement a law in order to protect the environment and to benefit the local taxi driver.

An incidence came into light when a private vehicle of some non-resident of state had driven their car in the Pangong Lake, when tried to stop the tourist from damaging the lake and environment, some reckless tourist attacked the local taxi driver. According to the guidelines or norms stated by the wildlife conservancy, motor vehicles are not allowed to drive near the lake and should be kept 500metre away from the lake.

One among the reason for calling up the strike is the flooding of the news on many online websites with the headlines quoting as “Car convoy attacked in Ladakh by Taxi Mafia” where a member recounts his panic-stricken experience in teambhp.com. It quoted, “One by one all our private cars were stoned and attacked. They paid no regard to the occupants of the vehicle and huge stones were hurled at private vehicles. Three in our convoy sustained minor injuries. We were fortunate that no one was seriously hurt. We had to nearly ram our way through the crowd. Fortunately, they parted and we were able to escape. A policeman was standing in front of the crowd and gesturing for us to stop rather than controlling the crowd.”

In the light of this incident, President- Ladakh Taxi Operator Co-operative Ltd, states, these cars were driving with some reference of some influential people, since it’s not allowed, people tried to stop them, they rammed towards the crowd nearly killing some people, which leads to frustration and the incident happened. He thus added that all this was not intentionally organized. 

The incident whether it is intentionally or unintentionally has somehow created a fear in the minds of tourist. 

Speaking on the issue, President –Ladakh Taxi Operator Co-operative Ltd., Dorjey Angchuk states that, “Because of the involvement of all Ladakhi sentiment it has been possible to carry out the procession in a very peaceful way against the private self-drive cars of tourist. Taxi union has been the largest contributor of the economy during the peak earning season of Ladakh, where the number of tourists attracts to the destination like Pangong Lake, Tsomo riri, Nubra Valley etc. 

Since, Ladakh has become the biggest tourist destination; the biggest threat seen is the entry of big private rental cab companies of Delhi, Bangalore in the Ladakh Taxi market. These cabs are exploiting the tourist potential of Ladakh and creating a big risk to the livelihood of local taxi driver, by engaging in malpractices such as self drive vehicles, private hired cars and motorbikes for commercial purposes.

Tourism is the prime source of economy for the people of Ladakh, and because of its scenic beauty, rich culture and tradition it attracts thousands of tourist from all over the world every year. 

 Self-drive private rental cars creating havoc in Ladakh
 Being it a seasonal business the livelihood of the local drivers at risk 
 Many unemployed youths are dependent on this seasonal business
 Exploitation of economy and environment of Ladakh
 Attack on some private rental cars by locals
 The incident gets viral on the internet quoting as Leh Taxi Mafia
 Call of strike