Shimla, Oct 4 (IANS) A remote Himachal Pradesh settlement in Kangra district, where there has been an acute shortage of ration owing to closure of trekking routes following heavy snowfall in September, received relief material on Thursday.
An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper provided the food material at Bara Bhangal inside the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary — an area not accessible by road, a government spokesperson told IANS here.
Senior district officials along with a medical team on board reached the area located at an altitude of over 2,800 metres to provide the ration and help after it was cut off for almost 14 days following untimely and heavy snowfall between September 22 and 24.
The officials also conducted an aerial survey, including over the Thamsar Pass, Jalsu and Khalihani Pass, to search for people stranded, but no one was spotted.
“Fifty packets of dry ration were handed over to the government fair price shop in Bara Bhangal for distribution. There are 20-22 flocks of sheep in the areas and all shepherds are safe,” he said.
The official ruled out media reports of starvation, mainly among shepherds, with the closure of pathways after the snowfall in the region.
Ahead of winter’s onset, many of Bara Bhangal residents migrate to Bir in Baijnath subdivision, near Palampur town, some 250 km from here. This time the snowfall was well in advance and people were caught unaware.
“After trudging over 75 km, we managed to reach Bir in three days. Most of the area enroute is under a thick blanket of snow,” Bhrigu Devi said.
Sheep and cattle rearing is the main occupation of these people who are nomads.
Akshay Jasrotia, an activist who is taking up their cause with the administration, said the situation is quite grim.
He said since most trekking routes leading to Bara Bhangal are out of bounds due to snow, the helicopter is the only mode of transportation to reach there.
Bara Bhangal is also accessible through the Thamsar Pass, located at an attitude of 4,700 metres.
Kangra Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar told IANS that a team of doctors accompanied the district officials who landed at Bara Bhangal for first-aid.
Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said the state on Tuesday requested the Defence Ministry to provide a helicopter for dropping the relief material as there was possibility that people might have run out of supplies.
The Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 944 sq km at an altitude above 3,000 metres.