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It’s been a great week long experience joining the Team at Pipalkoti in Chamoli and leaving them at Makku in Rudraprayag before physically getting into the survey of the last border village – MANA of district Chamoli. My trek from Bairangana near Mondal to Chopta via BHAINS KHARAK and KANCHULA KHARAK (Musk dear farm) through the dense jungle on a rainy day was the most memorable one.

The YATRIs have surveyed over 160 villages in the last 28 days. The single day’s longest trek being 38 Kms was crossing of KUNWARIKHAL by 22 members including the students of Class. 8-12. This ABHIYAN will reach Arakot on the evening of July 7th and conclude on July 8. Though, surveys on various different routes like Curzon Route by KU, Hardwar-Mana by the HNBGU teachers/students will be conducted. This campaign is entirely dependent on villagers for food and shelters. The team members take shelter for the night stay at primary schools, Panchayat GHARs, KHARAKs etc.

Prof. Shekhar Pathak is leading the ABHIYAN from the front, as he has the distinction of taking part in all the 3 previous ABHIYANs in 1974, 1984 and 1994. There are 5 other regular members trekking from May 25 till now – Dan Jantzen of the Future Generations USA, Niranjan Suyal from DDN, Neeraj Pant from Lucknow and Roop Singh Dhami – Dharchula. I salute these gentlemen for taking up the very challenging task and hats off to these trekkers.

The situation of villages, status of basis infrastructure, health, education, and communication etc. has not reached most of the remote villages. Condition of women and elders is pitiable in all the villages that have been surveyed so far. The self-help groups in a number of villages have shown to the Admn. That they can bring in the change by solidarity and associating the entire village as an entity. The women of village BEMARU in Chamoli have come forward to save their forests. They have volunteered to start a high school for the girls as no girl could afford to continue schooling after 8th standard earlier.

The local Newspapers like Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran are the only media covering the ABHIYAN and that too in the respective districts. Unfortunately, there is no report on the national electronic or print media. PAHAR will try to hold a Press Conference towards the end of July, once the data collected during the ABHIYAN is compiled. We are also trying to collect the recording from Doordarshan for 1974 coverage of this event. The compiled data/document will also be presented to the state and central Govt. for their action. That is what a voluntary organisation like PAHAR can do besides carrying out the survey. Community awareness through these visits in the far-flung villages has already begun. The Team is also interacting with various SHGs, Govt. Instts, forest department personnel and sharing its experience with them.

I would like to share with you all in my next mail the format/questionnaire that is being used for the survey of villages under the 4th A-A Abhiyan from Askot, PANGU near Nepal border in Pithoragarh district to Arakot, the last village of Uttarkashi near Himachal border.

– Chandan Dangi