India’s Doomsday Vault


India has its own emergency backup plan at Chang La, a high-altitude desert city in the Himalayas. Located at 17,500ft above sea level, Chang La is home to a vault that has 10,000 seeds and 200 plant species preserved at -18°C. The seeds and plant species can be restored in case of a tragic emergency. The seeds include apricots, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, radish, tomatoes, barley, rice and wheat. These seeds have been selected for their resistance to temperature, humidity and pests. The site is a safe zone from flooding and earthquakes. Chang La is three-hour away from Leh. One needs to travel on the second highest road in the world to get there. The vault has been built by the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) and the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in 2010 under the aegis of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is the second-largest permafrost seed bank in the world.

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