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Himachal

Posted at: Oct 12, 2018, 12:16 AM; last updated: Oct 12, 2018, 12:16 AM (IST)

No power, shepherds’ woes aggravate

Herdsmen unable to get in touch with their kin | Bara Bhangal sans electricity for 6 yrs
No power, shepherds’ woes aggravate
The Shepherds Mahasabha submits a memorandum to an official seeking early rescue of those stranded. Photo: Kamaljeet

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, October 11

Bara Bhangal, the remotest village of Kangra district, has been without power for the past six years. A 40 MW hydropower project in the village is lying shut. No effort has been made to make it functional. Lack of power is proving an impediment for the trapped shepherds in communicating with their family members.

Even a population of about 400 people living in Bara Bhangal is worried that since the region is expected to have a heavy snowfall this year, the winter is going to be tough without power.

Madho Ram, a shepherd, who recently came out of the Bara Bhangal valley from Chamba, while talking to The Tribune, said the district administration was claiming that the trapped shepherds could communicate outside the Bara Bhangal valley, using the satellite phone lying there. However, the fact was that there was no power in the village. The satellite phone was charged by solar power and worked just for an hour or two in a day and that also if the day was sunny, he said.

Meanwhile, members of the Shepherds Mahasabha of Himachal met district officials at Dharamsala on Thursday. They submitted a memorandum of their demands and threatened to start an agitation if no steps were taken to save 150 shepherds and about 15,000 livestock trapped in the valley.

The shepherds said the district administration was maintaining that they were hardy people who knew hills like the back of their hands and so they should be left to their fate.

They lamented that if some foreign tourist was trapped in the hills, the government would have been stirred into action. Even helicopters would have been called to rescue him. However, the residents of the own state had being left to fend for themselves. Madho Ram said two members of his family, along with 600 livestock, were still trapped in Bara Bhangal. They had to get out of the valley in 15 days before the winter set in. “If they fail to come out, we are likely to face huge financial losses due to loss of livestock”, he said.

Rangila Ram, whose family members are also trapped in the valley, said he was able to talk to them three days ago on a satellite phone in Bara Bhangal.

Akshay Jasrotia, an activist helping out the trapped shepherds, said they had suggested the district administration that a well-equipped team of mountaineers should be dropped near Thumsar Pass. It was about a 2-km stretch where the snow was soft. If it was compressed, the shepherds would be able to cross over with their livestock.

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