Coronavirus Fears Grip Lahaul Valley

Manali: Fear has gripped the natives of landlocked Lahaul as reports of Coronavirus infection having inflicted some people in Nepal are reported in the media.

Though Lahaul is still cut-off from all vehicular traffic as the only road to this high altitude remote land going over the Rohtang Pass is snowbound but there many Nepalese who have crossed over on foot to secure land leases for doing contract farming in the valley.With many Nepalese having reached reach Lahaul without any medical checkup or quarantine of suspected patients, the people of Lahaul have appealed to state government for a medical checkup of every person coming from Nepal.

Coronavirus (Photo: pixabay.com)

With Lahaul perhaps being the only district in the country that recorded a population decline in the 2011 decadal census, large tract of land are offered for lease contract farming each year where the leaseholder gets to keep 50% of the profits earned by the crops grown. Such lucrative terms does attract a large number of Nepalese farmers each year, who have already arrived in the valley, even though the Rohtang Pass is yet to open for vehicular traffic.

Of the about 60% native farmers of Lahaul who do their own farming, many of them do employ Nepalese labourers. Being a sturdy people who are used to high altitude conditions, Nepalese are also employed by Border Roads Organization and HP Public Works Department to construct and maintain roads in Lahaul-Spiti.

Fearing the spread of coronavirus Ramesh Rualwa, chairman Lahaul-Spiti Zila Parishad has urged the health department and the state government to ensure that all Nepalese who enter Lahaul be properly screened so that the killer virus does not spread in the valley.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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