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Bara Banghal: The road to hope

A remote village in Kangra district is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

Bhawani Negi | Shimla |

The wheel of time seems to be finally moving in favour of the natives of a remote hamlet, Bara Banghal in Kangra district, who are waiting endlessly for road connectivity to the rest of the world.

A road proposed for the first time by the incumbent state government has brought hope that a long-nurtured dream of the natives will be fulfilled.

Unlike other villages in the rest of the state, this village is still aloof from progress and development. Finally, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, with anticipation of progress and development of the area.

Nestled in the border of Kangra district and Mandi district, the village at a height of 8000 feet in Baijnath Tehsil of Kangra district is located around 41 km east from the district headquarters Dharamshala.

The secluded village of Bara Banghal is accessible by a 70- km arduous trekking route and it takes two to three days to reach the village on foot either from Bir (Thamsar Pass 4,700 metres) of Baijnath in Kangra or from Holi in Chamba district.

The tribulations of the natives of the area will end if road connectivity materialises. Additional Chief Secretary (Public Works Department) Manisha Nanda said a detailed project report (DPR) for the ambitious 21 km long road project to connect Bara Banghal with Holi in Chamba has been prepared.

The Union Government will be appraoched to fund Rs 27 crore for this project under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), said Nanda. Resident of Bara Banghal and a local leader Pawana Kumari said, “The absence of road connectivity has led to the backwardness of the area. The people are forced to live in abject poverty with no income generating avenues. Even our local produce that includes potatoes, apples and pulses which could help in making the people self-reliant cannot be transported to the markets for sale.”

The road is the only answer to make the people flourish and become self-sufficient, she added. While the village is well known for its remoteness, it was recently in the news after the villagers ran out of essential commodities as the shops got empty after the only accessible trekking route was damaged due to rain in July. The state government had to arrange helicopter service to drop rations to the locals owing to closure of trekking route due to landslides that were triggered by rains.

In yet another incident around 100 shepherds along with an estimated over 6000 livestock got stranded in Thamsar Pass (4,700 metres) on Bir-Bara Banghal trek without food and ration owing to untimely snow in October. The hills in Bara Banghal and Chotta Banghal area are grazing grounds for shepherds.

As the snow had prevented them from crossing over towards Kangra valley, the district administration had to make all-out efforts to rescue the shepherds and their livestock.

Social activist and Baijnath Kisan Sabha president Akshay Jasrotia said in the wake of the recent incidents road connectivity should be taken up on the priority basis.

“What is abysmal is that past governments, since the last 10 years have even failed to construct a mule path to connect the area, thus forcing the people to trudge on narrow and dangerous paths even risking their lives,” he said, adding that the proposal of road should not be a mere announcement.

The village with a population of around 400 people mostly shepherds is living without electricity.

In the name of progress and development the government has opened an Ayurvedic dispensary, primary school and high school. The government employees often try to evade any posting in the area owing to the hardships.

It is surprising that after seven decades of country’s independence, successive governments had not thought about connecting Bara Banghal with road.