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State steps in to help stranded shepherds

Sanjeev Kumar | Shimla |

A day after the issue of migratory shepherds stranded in Bara Bhangal area of Kangra district came to fore, the Himachal government on Sunday said it would extend help to them in getting ration supplies.

Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Baijnath Vikas Shukla said the administration is talking to stakeholders and beneficiaries to help these stranded shepherds whose ration stock had almost exhausted.

“The stakeholders and beneficiaries will be asked to help them and the district administration team which is stationed at Bara Bhangal, will play a major role in providing relief to them,” he said.

Shukla said the administration is investigating the migration trend and is trying to find out as to which district of the state these shepherds belong.

The shepherds kept on wandering throughout the year with their herds during winters in lower parts of HP and towards medium and high altitude areas respectively during rainy and summer season.

“Each of such migratory herdsmen happens to be the ordinary resident of a particular place where their families permanently resides. And the state government is regularly assisting them and their families with the benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) and providing them sufficient amount of subsidised ration within the places where their families resides,” he said.

Now in case, they want that the ration belonging of their quota, should be supplied to them on their way to Bara Bhangal or some other pastoral reaches, their case shall be put up before government.

“The government may devise necessary methodology in the positive directions,” he said, adding the government is quite sensitive towards such demands and other issues of pastoral community.

It is pertinent to mention here that the shepherds are stuck in pastoral lands in Bara Bhangal as the roads are washed away in heavy rains and their stocked ration supplies are almost exhausted.

The shepherds who move into the area during summers from surrounding area of Kangra, Kullu and Mandi earlier used to get supply of ration from mule path between Bara Gaon to Bara Bhangal, which has been completely damaged in rains.

These shepherds move into the area in April and remain there till September but the lack of ration supplies was to prove fatal for them as well as their herds in coming days.

Though the government had dispatched 48 quintals consignment including wheat, rice, pulses mustard oil, sugar, salt and match boxes from alternate route via Patlikuhal in Kullu district but it was to be provided to local residents only.

Generally, the consignment of foodgrains is dispatched to the valley in the month of May or June every year when Thamsar Pass (at the height of 18,000 feet) is open for pedestrians and mules.

However, this year because of early rains, heavy landslides and washing of a footbridge near Plashak, the mules carrying food grains could not proceed further, resulting in shortage of food grains in the valley.

Bara Bhangal is home to over 400 villagers and 700 shepherds and access to the area, which is surrounded by the Dhauladhar, Pangi, and Manimahesh Ranges, is extremely perilous.