Inaccessibility by road hangs heavy on Bara Banghal, the most backward pocket in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which is running out of food stock with landslides sliding away mule paths two months ago.
Sources said there is no supply of food grains to the valley after winters, making it extremely difficult for locals and shepherds, who take their flocks of sheep and goat for grazing in large numbers from different districts to sprawling green pastures in Bara Banghal in summers.
The paths for pedestrians and mules near Palachak on way to Thamsar Pass (4624 metres high) from Bir and two other places have got damaged, leaving no scope for anyone, especially mules to cross over.
Bara Banghal involves a tough mountainous trek of 70 kilometres from Bir in Kangra and Holi in Chamba district. Mules can reach the area from Bir side only. Bara BanghalPanchayat comprises two villages, Ghraan and Phaal, with a populace of over 700.
Most of people from this area live in Bir in winters, and some of them return home in summers to take care of elders back home and subsistent agriculture.
They mainly grow Rajmash and traditional cereals and are dependent on outside food supplies for other requirements.
The snowbound area opens in March-April, when the food grain supplies are dispatched there on mules. “However, this time, the foot bridge and paths near Palachak were swept away by heavy landslide after winters, so the supplies could not reach Bara Banghal after August.
Locals can manage with the stored food stuff for some time. But the shepherds are in extreme difficulty. They have to pay exorbitant price for food grains due to shortage. There is no salt left for animals in the area, which is alarming” said AkshayJasrotia, a local activist in Baijnath.
He said the people in Bara Banghal were already doing without power for many years with the lone hydro project set up there over a decade ago not running properly.
“People are facing problems in telephone connectivity too as they charge their phones with solar energy. That’s why they are unable to communicate outside,” he said, adding that the government must intervene at the earliest to send food supplies, and construct the paths with better placement so that connectivity is restored before winters.
Sub Divisional Magistrate, Baijnath, Vikas Shukla, when contacted, said the administration is seized of the matter. “I have brought it to the notice of district authorities and we will sort it out. We have taken up with forest department for construction of alternate paths, but there are some procedural formalities,” he said.