Mr. Chewang Norphel

  • 2010
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Development

Born: December 22, 1936

Mr. Chewang Norphel is better known as Ladakh’s glacier man, who makes artificial glaciers in winter so that villagers can get water in summer, for their fields.

Norphel's innovation came from the fact that the water in the mountain streams generally goes waste in winters, because no crops are possible. The artificial glacier is an intricate network of water channels and dams along the upper slope of the valley at altitudes ranging from 1400 ft and above. The glacial run off is stored at different altitudes above the village during the 5-6 winter months when there are no agricultural activities. These glaciers are low cost and require only local labour. Mr. Norphel’s technology has been a boon for many of the villages in addressing the acute water scarcity for agriculture and other human needs.

Mr. Norphel is currently working as Chief Project Officer, Natural Resource Management for a Leh based NGO called Leh Nutrition Project or LNP. There is scarcely a village in Ladakh where he has not made a road, a culvert, a bridge, a building or an irrigation system. He has received numerous awards for his technological innovation, including a mention in the Limca Book of Records in 2006.