Poor shepherds of Himachal Pradesh are unable to move the mountains, they have been moving around freely for ages.
Stuck in Himachal’s inaccessible pocket Bara Banghal in Kangra district after landslides washed away part of their only trek to area earlier this summer, the shepherds (Gaddi tribe) are facing ‘administrative’ blocks in rescue from the ordeal.
Over 500 shepherds from different districts of Himachal, who took their flocks of sheep (over one lakh) and around 500 horses, for grazing in sprawling green pastures of Bara Banghal are stranded.
They are not being given ration in Bara Banghal, where locals were supplied 400 quintals of food stuff (pulses, rice, wheat milk powder and other items) through chopper by government sometime back, spending huge amount of money-This despite directions by Sub Divisional Magistrate, Baijnath to give 10 per cent ration to shepherds.
The shepherds are not able to come out of the tough area owing to hassles by wild life wing, which did not allow repair of trek, citing the condition of No Objection Certificate (NOC), it being a Dhauladhar Wildlife sanctuary area.
The restriction was allegedly posed when SDM got funds (Rs 5.5 lakh) sanctioned and released from the district authorities for repair work, and the Block Development Officer (BDO) had constituted monitoring committee from Bara Banghal representatives and Ghumantu Pashu Palak Maha Sabha (of shepherds) to oversee construction of four kilometres stretch.
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 Banghal Panchayat comprises two villages, Ghraan and Phaal, with a populace of over 700.
The Ghumatu Pashu Pala Maha Sabha (Karnarthu) however, submitted a memorandum to member of National Commission for Scheduled tribes, who was in Kangra to probe into earlier episode involving Gaddi tribe, alleging that the ration depot holder in Bara Banghal is not giving them ration despite SDM’s directions.
The Maha Sabha sought an inquiry into it and urged for ordering the government to facilitate shepherds in Bara Banghal as per norms before 1995-96 when they were given ration there only- — and order repair of trek.
Some ray of hope for them came from the order of SDM, Baijnath on Thursday, wherein his court directed the Divisional Forest Officer, (wildlife), Hamirpur to issue the NOC in favour of construction and repair of the route ( which is shortest possible) within two days time.
“Or he can suggest any alternate measures before this court within the stipulated frame after furnishing an affidavit on oath in public interest and save the public exchequer,” said the order by Collector- cum-SDM Baijnath, Vikas Shukla.
The order said the period for undertaking road repair is quite limited as winters are approaching and in any such event, the state government will be forced to spend millions of Rupees again from saving the population and flock from there from being starved.