Snowfall holds up trek of nomadic tribes

April 13th, 2009 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, April 13 (IANS) Heavy snowfall in the mountainous ranges in Jammu and Kashmir last month has delayed by at least a month the annual trek of the nomadic tribes of Gujjars and Bakerwals, who usually lead their cattle to the upper reaches of the Himalayas by this time of the year.
The snowfall has damaged the hilly tracks that Gujjars and Bakerwals along with their sheep and buffaloes take to the upper reaches for summers to let their cattle graze in the high-altitude pastures.

“There is an urgent need to repair those tracks,” said Javaid Rahi, a senior functionary at Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.

The foundation works on the issues confronting the Gujjar and Bakerwal community in Jammu and Kashmir, which constitutes 20 percent of the 11 million population of the state. The nomads are concentrated in the border belt of Rajouri, Poonch, plains of Jammu and Kupwara, Baramulla, Anantnag and Ganderbal districts in the Valley.

The state’s forest minister Mian Altaf Ahmad, himself a Gujjar, is expected to soon take up the issue of the repair of these tracks. “We are aware of this problem,” he told IANS.

The delay would make it difficult for the nomads to get fodder for their cattle, said Javaid Rahi. But they would be able to vote in larger numbers as most of them are registered as voters in their winter abodes.

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