Bada Bhangal, one of the remotest villages in Himachal Pradesh is facing an extreme crisis and is on the verge of a famine. Located in Baijnath Block in the difficult terrain of District Kangra, the village lies on the banks of Ravi and has been completely cut-off from the rest of the country.
This remote village can only be reached via high mountain passes or over a dangerous cliff along the gorge of river Ravi. Bada Bhangal is surrounded by the Dhauladhar, Pangi, and Manimahesh Ranges. You have to traverse through these ranges to access the remote valley. However, these passes remain closed for about eight months in the year. The cliff approach, although short, is extremely dangerous and accessible only for six months, depending on the weather.
It has been reported that the lives of 400 shepherds, their cattle and sheep-dogs are in danger. The stored rations are almost over and can only support them for less than a month. The shepherds aren’t able to provide their cattle with salt, which is an essential nutrient required for their survival. These cattle are the village’s main source of income and livelihood and so, this situation is threatening everyone’s survival.
Usually, one needs to traverse 76 km to reach Bada Bhangal. However, due to various landslides beyond Badagra, the village has been completely cut-off from major cities. Between Palachak and Panhartu, near Jhurdi, there’s a 6 km road that was totally washed off due to landslides. Moreover, the continuous rain and subsequent landslides since April have rendered it impossible for roads to be rebuilt. In fact, the situation is so bad that it has not been possible to arrange for horses and mules to traverse this area. The only form of communication the village has with the rest of the country is through satellite phones.
If the authorities do not take heed of the situation, then there will be a widespread famine in Bada Bhangal soon.
The one way that this issue can be resolved is if a road is built. However, Sub-Division Magistrate (SDM) of Baijnath Vikas Shukla said that the area in which the road has to be repaired comes under sanctuary land. It has been reported that DFO wildlife has been asked to submit an estimate so that sufficient funds for the same can be released.
Rijul Shergill, a trekker who first spoke up about the terrible condition of Bada Bhangal says, “The only way out is if we arrange a private helicopter which can drop essentials supplies to Bada Bhangal as there is a helipad in the region. The other way is by sending essential supplies over the Kaleheni Pass from Manali side as this pass can be crossed by ponies. Though it might be a costly affair, it needs to be done.”
Abhinav Chandel, a famous Instagrammer residing in Mcleodganj is also spreading the word about saving Bada Bhangal. Talking to Tripoto, he says, “If help is not provided at the earliest, we might be at the risk of losing one of the most precious Himalayan treasures which is still preserved in its original form. If we are not able to save Bada Bhangal, it will be a great set back for the entire travelling and trekking community.”
While the government has not been able to take any action, there are numerous ways to involve yourself and help save Bada Bhangal. The need of the hour is to bring this issue to the forefront and increase the pressure on the government to take action.
1. Spread the word as much as you can so that news agencies, bloggers and influencers can pick this news up and push for change.
2. You can start a petition on change.org. One can set up a petition to save Bada Bhangal and reach about 45 million users. All you have to do is fill out a few questions, and a petition is instantly ready to share with the world. You can address the petition to government officials or other private organisations that can take action.
3. This is the time to use your contacts to create change. If you know of people who work in NGOs that work on environmental issues, reach out to them. Urge organisations to create a change.
4. You can also help by putting pressure on private companies to provide required funds to restore roads to Bada Bhangal and save the village, its shepherds and cattle. Companies like Mahindra and Mahindra, Reliance and Tata Group address environmental indues as part of their CSR. If you know of people in these companies, reach out to them.
It’s time all of us come together, take action and save Bada Bhangal from this extreme crisis.
This post was originally published on Tripoto