Short supply of government ration has forced tribals in some border villages in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region to depend on Chinese foodgrains bought from Nepal. “The quota of ration supplied by the state government falls short of our requirement. So much so that some of the villagers have had to depend on Chinese foodgrains bought from markets in Nepal,” tribal leader Krishna Garbiyal said.
He was part of a delegation of Vyas valley villagers who met Dharchula sub-divisional magistrate on Friday to demand more ration under the public distribution system or PDS.
Villagers cross a bridge over the Kali river near Garbiyang, which connects India with Nepal, and buy ration from the markets at Tinkar and Changru in the neighbouring country, Mr Garbiyal told news agency Press Trust of India.
“The government allocates 5 kg wheat and 2 kg rice per month to each family, which is far from enough. We have demanded several times to increase the ration quota for families living in high-altitude areas as these places do not grow grains like wheat or paddy,” Mr Garbiyal said.
The villagers said apart from the insufficient quota of ration, even their allotted amount has not reached them in time. They got their last ration before the onset of monsoon.
A 49 km-stretch from Mangti to Gunji is being repaired for the last six months, which made the practice of sending ration on mules to the villages difficult this year.
“Over 72.5 quintals of ration were sent to Vyas valley villages by helicopters before monsoon began. The ration for October, November and December are yet to be sent to the villages,” Dharchula SDM RK Pandey said.
With the road route under repair, the administration has to depend on helicopters to transport ration to Vyas valley villages, he said. He said the administration is also in touch with the Army to use its helicopters.
The bad road condition is also likely to delay the winter migration of Vyas valley villagers to lower areas, Mr Garbiyal said.
In a letter to the SDM, the villagers asked whether the helicopter used for Kailash Mansoravar tourists could also carry ration to their villages. The helicopter service was closed after the pilgrimage ended last month.