The way east

Year after year, the most inaccessible regions of the country face acute food shortages. Take for instance the eastern district of Taplejung. Like every year, the poor people of this district, also one of the most backward areas of the country, are faced with the same crisis — lack of food supply — this year also. The stocks of maize, the main foodgrain produced in the district, are depleting fast and the local depot of the Nepal Food Corporation is virtually empty. Rice is not at all grown there. Worse, the locals are compelled to go to the jungles to look for food when Sikkim, an Indian state, is just next door to Kalikhola VDC. Apparently, they are barred from crossing the border to purchase foodstuff from the markets in Sikkim.

But the lack of transport links is the main cause of food shortages in several hilly districts, including Taplejung. The locals even today rely on yaks to bring foodgrains from Tharpu area of the district. Unfortunately yaks cannot tread during the monsoon season, literally creating a starvation situation there. Lack of access to transportation also means paying a high price for the goods. The government just cannot remain a silent spectator to such a miserable state of affairs. It should at least reactivate the government depots and ensure timely supply. But as a long-term solution to this recurrent problem, the ongoing road building project connecting Khalikola to Chyangthapu VDC should be expedited. The people would heave a huge sigh of relief if the road project were to be completed soon.