Rice airlifted to Gorkha villages hit by shortagesResidents of Chhekampar and Chumchet complain that the recent supply is too little to meet the demand.
The Food Management and Trading Company Limited has finally started supplying rice to the northern villages of Gorkha that are reeling under food shortage after the only foot trail linking the settlements to the rest of the district got damaged by landslides two months ago.
A Nepal Army helicopter transported around 93 quintals of rice to Chhekampar and Chumchet of Chum Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A total of 144 sacks weighing 30kg each were transported to Chumchet, a settlement of around 270 households. And 197 rice sacks of similar weight were airlifted to the 315 households of Chhekampar village.
According to Shiva Sunar, the information officer at the company, the residents of Chhekampar and Chumchet can purchase a rice sack for Rs 1,500.
“The transported rice was handed over to the people’s representatives, as we are unable to mobilise our employees in the villages due to road obstruction. We will receive money later through the ward office,” said Sunar.
Food shortage is looming large in Chhekampar and Chumchet, as the villagers are facing difficulties in bringing in daily essentials due to the disruption of the foot trail. The area is still disconnected from road networks and its residents rely on mules to carry food grains and daily essentials.
The local people have complained that the transported rice is too little to cover the local population.
“Transportation of rice and other essential goods was halted in the area for the past two months. The rice airlifted on Tuesday and Wednesday is not enough for the villagers. We haven’t even been able to give one sack each to a family,” said Pasang Phunjo Lama, the ward chairman of Chumnubri Rural Municipality-7. He urged the concerned authorities to supply more rice so that the ward office could distribute at least one sack per household.
The local units and the District Administration Office of Gorkha had repeatedly been urging the Ministry of Home Affairs to airlift essential goods to the affected villages since the disruption of the foot trail.
The Food Management and Trading Company Limited was preparing to airlift around 150 quintals of rice to the villages with the helicopter managed by the ministry. But the ministry allowed only five flights to transport the rice.
“The rice was transported to Chumchet in two flights and Chhekampar in three flights. Around 17 to 21 quintals could be transported in a flight. So we could not transport the rice sacks as planned,” said Sunar.
According to Chief District Officer of Gorkha Shankarhari Acharya, rice will be distributed to the affected households in the presence of the respective ward chairmen.
“We could not bring in as much rice as expected due to limited flights,” Acharya said.
According to him, his office will request the Ministry of Home Affairs to supply more rice to the northern part of the district.
“We have also taken initiatives to open the damaged foot trail,” said Acharya.
A landslide in Lokpa, which occurred on August 17, is still ongoing in the area. Around 600 families living in Chumchet-6 and Chhekampar-7 of Chumanubri Rural Municipality are facing a shortage of daily essentials, including food grains, after the landslides damaged the foot trail that links the settlements to the rest of the district.
In the previous years, the residents of Chhekampar and Chumchet used to buy daily essentials from the Chhekampar border point connecting Tibet. However, the border point has remained closed since the Covid-19 pandemic. Crops like wheat, barley, buckwheat and potato are grown in the northern part of the district but the local production is not enough to feed the population.