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Why Seven Villages in Uttarakhand Are at China's Mercy for their Ration Supply

As the road was blocked for months near the Lipulekh pass this year, the villagers say that not enough ration supply could reach them.


Updated:October 5, 2018, 5:24 PM IST
Pithoragarh: In Uttarakhand’s Byas valley, around 400 families are dependent on China for basic food necessities like salt, cooking oil, rice and wheat. These food items reach them via Nepal. The villagers allege that the ration quota provided by state government does not suffice their needs.

The residents have been demanding extra ration from the government, saying they live like “orphans” in their own country. “We are living as orphans in our own country although we are situated in an important border area with two neighbouring countries,” the Times of India said quoting a resident. Bundi, Gunji, Kuti, Napalchu, Nabhi, Garbyang and Ronkong are the seven villages who buy the daily essential items from China, routed via Nepal.

As the road was blocked for months near the Lipulekh pass this year, the villagers say that not enough ration supply could reach them. The Lipulekh pass connects the area with the rest of the district.

The nearest market to the village is 50 km away in Dharchula. Due to the blocked roads, the supplies have not been regular. The villagers say that the “massive effort” is required to transport the food items on mules and porters. The supplies, however, do not suffice the 400 families living in the seven villages.

“The government provides only 2 kilo rice and 5 kilo wheat per family under the public distribution system (PDS) which is not sufficient for us. We are often forced to purchase daily goods from Tinkar and Changru villages of Nepal, whose residents source these items from the Taklakot bazaar in China,” a resident said.

The Chinese goods are “less expensive than those that they get at the marketplace in Dharchula,” the villagers say, adding that the transportation cost adds to the price of the food items. “A salt packet for Rs 30 or 40 reaches us at a price of Rs 70,” says Nabiyal, a resident of the Byas valley.

| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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