Mustang locals and village heads impose their own rules to control Covid-19Residents have also restricted the movement of their own relatives who had migrated to warmer climates during the winter.
Every year during winter, hundreds of people living in the upper reaches of Mustang migrate downhill towards warmer climes. This year, just as they made their annual winter migration, the infection caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was spreading across the world. Since then the virus has travelled rapidly infecting over a million people and killing thousands, forcing many governments to enforce extensive lockdowns to stop the virus outbreak.
In Nepal, too, the government has imposed a lockdown, which has barred many people from Upper Mustang from returning to their villages. Some say they have been told not to return by their own relatives owing to fears of the viral disease.
“As many as 276 people from Upper Mustang are currently stuck in Pokhara,” Indradhara Bista, an assembly member at Gandaki Province, said. “Many of them are teachers, local representatives and farmers.”
Since many of the government officials and teachers have yet to return, daily administration in the district has been severely affected, Bista said.
Amid this, village heads in the district—where the ‘Mukhiya’ tradition is still in practice—have imposed their own rules. Many rural municipalities have restricted entry, setting up checkpoints at various spots.
According to the rule, anybody who returns to the rural municipality has to stay 14 days in quarantine facilities. Even the local representatives are asked to self-quarantine themselves.
The locals have also restricted the movement of their own relatives who had migrated to warmer climates during the winter. In case anybody wants to return, they have to compulsorily stay in quarantine facilities.
The lockdown and self-isolation regulation have halted the daily administrative works in many parts of the district.
“We don’t have contact with Lo Manthang Rural Municipality in Upper Mustang and Damodarkunda Rural Municipality since the local units are vacant,” Chief District Officer Bed Prasad Aryal said. “This is making it difficult to carry out day-to-day operations.”
The three local units in the lower belt of the district have quarantined 85 people who had recently returned from abroad. Moreover, the village heads have announced monetary fines against anybody who provides shelter to people incoming from other districts and abroad.