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November 22, 2009

Winter cuts off Ladakh, makes stocking of foods a must

     Leh: Come winter, Ladakh in JK has to ensure that there is ample stock of foodstuff and other essential commodities as the region will remain cut off from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall. Thus prior to the onset of the winter, stocking of food material is a common activity in Ladakh as the Srinagar-Leh through the Zojila Pass and Manali-Leh via the Rohtang Pass highways are closed to vehicular traffic for over five months. On an average, the snowfall is in the range of 20 to 30 feet. With the snowbound areas being completely cut-off, the prevailing conditions here make it necessary to stock food for at least six months for everyone. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency stocking and distributing food grains. "It is important to do stocking of food for more than six months because, Ladakh is such an area that is completely cut-off for more than six months. And the material is supplied by us to two agencies, the PDS (public distribution system) and the defence," said Shakil Ahmad, in-charge, FCI, Leh. According to the local administration, basic food materials like sugar, rice, wheat flour and kerosene are procured in advance and stocked in godowns supply to the people through the public distribution system. "Essential commodities are mostly stocked in the main godown in the FCI (Food Corporation of India) like rice and sugar. Kerosene is stored in the IOC (Indian Oil Corporation). We lift the stocks according to the requirement in Leh and surrounding areas and by the release orders given by the government. But there are few snow-bound areas which are cut-off for four to six months even from Leh, so there we try to do advance stocking," noted Ruth Mary, Assistant Director, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Leh. On their part, the locals in Leh and other places of Ladakh gear up themselves well in advance before the onset of winter. "We are already mentally prepared and we prepare ourselves by stocking kerosene, cow dung cakes (as fuel) and wood, and the rest we get from the government," said Bilal Ahmad, a local. Better known as the Little Tibet, Ladakh is famous for its enchanting nature of roaring rivers, daunting gorges, snowy mountaintops, unique wildlife and numerous historical Buddhist monasteries.
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