Uttarakhand: 400 Families In 7 Villages Forced To Buy Food From China Via Nepal
Almost 400 families from seven villages in Uttarakhand’s Byas valley are compelled to depend on India’s neighbour China, for basic food necessities like salt, cooking oil, rice and wheat among others. Reportedly, these food items reach the villagers via Nepal. Bundi, Gunji, Kuti, Napalchu, Nabhi, Garbyang and Ronkong are the seven villages. The residents have also alleged that the ration quota provided by the government isn’t enough.
Villagers forced to buy ration from China
The Times Of India, in its report has highlighted the plight of the hundreds of villagers who have no choice but to rely on China to buy items which are easily available otherwise. One of the villagers said, “We are living as orphans in our own country although we are situated in an important border area with two neighbouring countries.”
Earlier this year, the villagers said that government rations have not been able to reach them since the access road to the valley near Lipulekh pass has been blocked for several months now. The Lipulekh pass connects the valley with the rest of the district. A part of the roads leading to these villages was washed away in 2017 and while the Army’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is reconstructing the road, it is presently not suitable for vehicles. The villagers also said that the nearest marketplace, Dharchula is over 50 km away and ration supply has been erratic because of the road blockade.
The supply, even if it reaches after massive transportation efforts isn’t enough for a large number of families who are residing there. Reportedly, the government provides each family with two kilos of rice and five kilos of wheat under the Public Distribution System (PDS) which is insufficient for the families.
The residents have to purchase everyday items from Tinkar and Changru villages of Nepal where products from China’s Taklakot bazaar are sold. Reportedly, the Chinese products the villagers buy from Nepal are cheaper than those available in Dharchula. Even though local authorities had conveyed the villagers’ demand for increased ration to the government, it was reportedly rejected.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate of Pithoragarh, where the villages are located said that the problem has arisen mostly because of the inaccessible nature of the villages which is a result of the road being washed away. He added that the district administration has even asked the state government to extend the helicopter services which could have been used to transport ration supply to these villages.
Around 400 families have to tread dangerous routes, risking their lives, just to fetch basic necessities, which are readily available to most of us in the blink of an eye. While requests have been made to the government to work on the problem, not much has been done in this regard.