Shortage of food forces people to live on wild roots, fruits

Sankhuwasabha, August 12 :

People of Bhotkhola area in Sankhuwasabha district have been reeling under severe food crunch due to the closure of Kimathanka border point by China. The acute shortage of food has forced them to rely on wild fruits and roots.

Some 300 people of Kimathanka, Hatiya, Pawakhola and Chepuwa village development committees of Bhotkhola area are busy these days searching for wild fruits and roots in the forests of Saldim, Lukichak, Kholakharka, Sanoboda and Makalu base camp areas.

“My neighbours have gone to the jungle to collect wild fruits and roots,” Pasang Khamba, of Hatiya-4, said.

“The weeklong collection of wild food supports a family of seven members for 15 days,” Sona Bhote of Hatiya said.

Over 200 people of Hatiya, Kimathanka and Chepuwa village development committes had gone to the jungles to search for wild fruits and roots, police said. Some youths of the area have come to Num, Matsepokhari, Manebhanjyang and Khandbari to purchase rice for elders and children.

“We are forced to visit Khandbari, the district headquarters, as the Kimathanka checkpoint is closed by the Chinese government and the subsidised rice sent by the government did not reach Bhotkhola area as it was sold in Num and Khandbari,” Puchu Bhote said, adding that 15 days were required to take rice from Khandbari to the villages.

Bhotkhola area lies some 165 kilometres north from Khanbari. People of Bhotkhola areas used

to go to Dedang and Riu bazaar of China to purchase essentials.

However, they could not purchase essentials after the Chinese government closed Kimathanka

checkpoint since May 22.

The government has decided to send additional 300 quintals of rice to the starving areas. Nepal Food Corporation, Khandbari branch chief, Om Prasad Upadhyay said the rice would be supplied within a month.

Of 300 quintals of rice sent by the government to Bhotkhola area last year, only 100 quintals reached there. The remaining rice was distributed in Num village development committee, leaders of political parties said.