Reopening of Olanchunggola lifts locals’ spirits

TAPLEJUNG: Olanchunggola - the entry point to Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) - that was shut for six months due to heavy snowfall and inclement weather has opened recently.

As the mercury rises, the snow is melting gradually. Locals are converging at the border point to purchase essential commodities. They are being accompanied by ubiquitous yaks, the beasts of burden in this hostile terrain.

The reopening of Olanchunggola has lifted up the locals’ spirit since they are heavily dependant on it for their daily sustenance.

“The Chinese didn’t allow us to enter Tibet before the snowfall started, citing security reasons. Hence, our food stock was depleted during winter. I’m happy that good days are back again,” said an elated Tenzing Sherpa, a local resident.

Business activities, too, have started in earnest. The road, which leads up to Olanchunggola, is now buzzing with activities. “We have absolutely no place to stand. It has become so crowded,” said Pema Sherpa, a local.

Locals from both sides of the border - Nepal and TAR - are turning up here in good numbers for their daily transactions. A majority of the people, who live in the northern part of Taplejung - like Olanchulanggola, Yangma, Papung, Topkegola and Dhunsha - depend on TAR for provisions since subsistence agriculture is few and far between because of extreme cold conditions in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.

Olanchunggola is the main entry point to TAR. Over the years, the border post has strengthened the bilateral relations between Nepal and China.

Taplejung residents sell their produce here and also buy stuff from the Tibetans. Barter system is also in vogue.

In a bid to strengthen the daily ties between Taplejung and TAR, the government has allocated Rs 1 crore for the construction of a link road to the border point.