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Profile of Pinder Valley- simar’s Project Area A. General information

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Profile of Pinder Valley- SIMAR’s Project Area

A. General information

The Pinder River is a tributary of the Alakananda and forms part of the Alakananda catchment, which is part of the Ganga River Valley System. (See Map 1 attached). The drainage Map of the Pinder River Valley is shown in Map 2. The area of the Pinder river valley is 1,10,662 ha and a population of 50,059 (9702 households) as per 1991 Census. This population resides in 166 revenue villages and administratively fall under Deval and Tharali Blocks, Tharali Tehsil of Chamoli District.
The valley exhibits sharp increases in height over very short horizontal distances. The altitude increases from 1200 m to 3700 m above mean sea level. This gives rise to a marked variation in vegetation from sub-tropical to sub-alpine. The climate is pre-dominantly temperate and temperatures range from 5 to 30 o C in lower parts and -5 to 22 o C in higher parts of the valley. Rainfall varies between 1500 to 1700 mm in a bimodal pattern.

Figure 1 shows the landuse in the Pinder Valley10. As can be seen, Reserved area – (forest area and blanks) forms 60% of the total area. A vast majority of the usable area is thus under the direct control of the Forest Department while that under the direct control of village communities is only 29%.

The entire ridge area of three sub-watersheds (except Pinder left) contains large alpine pastures (locally called Bugyals) that have been variously named by the local communities. A number of natural lakes are also present near these Bugyals.

The valley falls on the trekking route to some of Uttarakhand’s most renowned peaks – Trishul, Nanda Ghoonti and to famous glaciers – Pindari and Sunderdhunga. The Bedini and Aali Bugyals also attract many tourists round the year because of their scenic beauty and serene environs.

1. Caste composition

Pinder valley is inhabited by 9702 households with total population of 50,059 residing in 166 revenue villages. The majority of the population consists of Thakurs and Brahmins (80.5%) while SC and ST account only for 19.5 % of the total population. The distribution of this population in various villages is based on caste. Thakur community is dominant in 88% of villages while Brahmins are dominant only in 10% of total villages. A mere 2% of villages are dominated by Harijans.

Table 1 : Caste Composition in Tharali Tehsil




Population of Scheduled Castes



Population of Schedules Tribes



Population of Thakur & Brahmins



Considerable social co-operation exists between various caste groups in the villages. Interestingly, political polarisation on caste lines has not yet evolved in the region. Government welfare policies targeted at Harijan communities have also catalysed a substantial change in the socio-economic status of Harijan community:

  • On the one hand, untouchability has reduced considerably. The traditional roles of various sub-castes within Harijans has now been diluted and forgotten. Today, all Harijans get due payment for their services in house construction, ploughing. They are also allowed to enter the household as against earlier strictly enforced social taboos. In fact, in a number of villages (such as Ghes), the younger Harijan generation is adamantly demanding an entry into the village temple of Nanda Devi during the annual sacrificial function in the village.

  • On the other hand, bitterness is being felt among high castes by excessive facilities and reservations being provided to these Harijans. Thus the higher castes feel neglected on the one hand. They also feel that Government schemes are being misused and wasted by Harijans.

  • However, 2 to 5% of Harijan population has also benefited from reservations in army recruitment and other jobs. Harijans are also doing well in villages where they own good productive agricultural land and have access to highly productive forest and grassland area as in village Kurad.

  • As against earlier trends, Harijans are now also beginning to educate their children and are hence able to ensure better job opportunities for them.

2. Occupation/income profile

The major sources of income are different in high altitude villages and low-altitude accessible villages in the Pinder valley. While agri-pastoralism is the major source of income in higher villages, remittances from migrated persons are the major source of income in low altitude villages.
This is because the economic base of the high altitude villages is primarily built on products such as Potato, Chuwa, Palti, Rajma in agriculture and mule, wool, sale of sheep/goat, buffalo, cow, ploughing charges for bullocks in animal husbandry. 10 to 20% of total household in these villages also draw their income from sale of lichens and other Medicinal Plants such as hathajadi, kutki, atish, meetha vish, etc. to local market and contractors. A few households also earn income from tourism services in form of guides and porters. The economy is principally dependent on usage of natural resources, especially forests.
In low altitude villages, the economy is heavily dependent on remittances and sale of agriculture products like paddy and pulses and horticulture produce such as lemon, malta, galgal, etc. One person from almost every two households in this zone is engaged in services like Army, Para-Military forces, state/central government and private services. The poorer families in this zone survive on daily wage labour in house construction and government schemes as well as through sale of ringal and fibre-based crafts. In spite of ease of access to roads, these villages are not able to sell milk or products due to absence of adequate chilling facilities in the vicinity. They are also not able to grow and sell other cash crops such as vegetables due to a lack of exposure and technical inputs for growing these.

B. Social Services in the valley

The scenario of basic social services such as education, health and other infrastructural facilities is quite poor in the valley. This is because of various reasons :

  1. The area is politically marginalized because it is on the border of Kumaon and Garhwal. The Tehsil has also been shifted from the administrative control of one district to another a number of times in recent history. Moreover, the area is sparsely populated, thus making it an insignificant vote bank for political parties.

  2. The various sections in the valley itself are poorly organised to demand better access to Government services or to pressurise people’s representatives and local administration for better services.

  3. Political representatives of the valley are not resourceful enough to be able to pressurise the Government. and local administration and to demand better efficiency.

1. Education

According to 1991 census, the number of educational institutions been set up in the valley are shown in box 1 below.
Box 1 : Number of educational institutions in Pinder valley
Degree College 1

Intermediate Colleges 7

High Schools 8

Junior High School 28

Primary Schools 123
The inadequacy of these facilities can be gauged from the fact that these institutions are supposed to cover a population of 50,000 spread over 1000 sq. km. Most of these institutions are set up near roads and in accessible sites, generally at lower altitudes.
Accessibility of the village was found to be a major factor influencing the literacy levels in the valley. Thus the literacy level is noticeably high in low-altitude villages. Almost 70 to 80% of villagers in this zone are able to afford higher education for their children due to better ease of access to roads and because these educational institutions are nearer to them.
The situation is reversed in high-altitude villages. As many as 50 to 60% of villagers in most high altitude villages are still unable to send their children (especially girls) to high school and intermediate colleges. The reasons are as follows :

  • The high schools and colleges are very far from these villages thus making it impossible for students (especially girls) to commute daily from their homes. While some village people are able to arrange for lodging (either on rent or with relatives) near these educational institutions for their children, not all village people can do so. Moreover, educating their children in distant schools requires a monthly expense of Rs. 400 to 500/month in the absence of a regular income round the year.

  • Some villagers in the higher villages also believe that higher education will alienate their children from land-based occupations such as agriculture. They are therefore content in providing their children only a basic literacy level up to primary or junior high school. The growing insecurity and competition in acquiring jobs in army/state Government and private services is another factor shaping this perception.

  • As a result of the above, private primary schools have started running in some high-altitude villages. These are either run by RSS (as in Mundoli, Kurad) or by local educated youth (as in Waan, Waank and Himni). In most government primary schools at village level, there are no teachers.

Education of girls : In almost all villages in the region, a general tendency to not educate girls beyond 12th Class was observed. This is mainly because of the lack of availability of higher educational institutions in the vicinity of most villages. Village people surveyed during this study however reported that if higher education was available near the village, as many as 20-30% more villagers would send their girls for higher education. This trend of sending girls for education up to graduation is visible in low altitude villages where higher education institutions are easily accessible. Other reasons for not providing higher education to girls are shown in Box 2 below.
Box 2 : Education of girls in high altitude villages
In Waan village, the figures show that female literacy in the two age categories (6-20 years and above 20 years) is significantly lower than male literacy levels. This is because :

  • Until the 1970s, there was a near absence of education being imparted to girls as the number of schools available were very few and far-flung. Also, boys were educated so that they could go for jobs in the armed forces and other services. The trend of educating girls has picked up only much later.

  • Girls were also considered as the major work force and parents focused on preparing their girls to perform various domestic and agricultural duties. These were the qualities that were also looked for in a daughter-in-law during selection of brides. This trend has now been reversed and more and more families are looking for an educated girl who can also perform household chores.

  • This is also because the young men who are exposed to the outside world have realised that an educated girl has distinct advantages over an illiterate girl. Thus the overall demand for basic education among girls has increased,

In Manmati village, it was found that village people do not concentrate on educating their girl-child and are content if the girl completes education up to 10th or 12th Class. Thus only one girl in the village was reported to be a post-graduate. Other social restrictions and traditional taboos also hinder the education of girl-child. There is a fear that the girls may get “spoilt” by over-exposure and could bring dishonour to the family. Imparting education to girl is even now important only for better marriage prospects. Poor families prefer investing into education of boys so that he can migrate to the plains and would subsequently earn income for the family.

2. Health services

Government health services are very poor in Pinder valley as reflected by the Box 3 below:
Box 3 : Number of health centres in Pinder valley

Allopathic PHC Clinics 10

Ayurvedic Clinics 8

Mother & Child Care Centres 8

Base Hospital (Under construction) 1

This meagre health infrastructure is supposed to cater to the needs of 9702 households residing in 166 revenue villages scattered over the area of 1000 sq. km. The major diseases reported in the valley are asthma, tuberculosis, viral fever, cholera, jaundice, etc.

Qualified Doctors posted in remote villages do not attend clinics regularly and prefer to stay at their hometown or near local markets (as in Jhaliya, Manmati). Most such clinics are either run by the compounder (as in Waan, Kurad) or manned by incompetent doctors (as in Ghes). The clinics are also in a miserable condition, as they do not possess any medicine or equipments. Vaccination services are almost never provided to the children of remote villages. ANM or MCC staff visits the village only during Pulse-polio campaigns. Family planning services are also completely non-operational.
As a result, village people are forced to visit quack Allopathic Doctors (locally called “Bengali”) at roadheads. For minor ailments, village people generally visit the local Vaidya or treat themselves by traditional remedies based on medicinal plants. If the illness is not cured, they visit the Registered Practitioners at Tharali and Deval.
For major ailments, villagers go to Ranikhet, Haldwani, Karanprayag or Dehradun based on economic status or presence of relatives in these cities. Many serious patients either die on the way or at hospitals due to a delay in reaching the Doctor in time. The nearest X-ray and pathological facilities are available only at Tharali or Karanprayag.
Most delivery cases in the village are handled by traditional birth attendants (Dais). These Dais handle almost 98% of the delivery cases in the village itself. As a result of their experience and expertise, only 2 to 3% of infant mortality was reported in the region. These village dais reported that they do not attend trainings organised by Government Mother and Child Care staff because of the following reasons:

  • The training is conducted in Hindi and not Garhwali.

  • The training content is not useful.

  • The training is conducted in Deval or Tharali, which is very far from villages. The Dais are not able to drop household chores and attend the training.

  • To and fro fare or food and stay arrangements during the training is poor.

3. Environmental sanitation

One of the major reasons for spread of water and air borne diseases in the valley is the extremely poor status of environmental sanitation. This is visible in the near-total lack of toilets in the area.
Only in some villages like Talwari, Gwaldam, Simalsen, almost every household owns a toilet. However, in almost 80% of the villages in the valley, toilets are not constructed and people defecate in nearby streams, wastelands or forests. The women and elders are the most affected due to lack of toilets. Women rise early in the morning to avoid men folk or perform ablutions during collection of fuelwood, fodder and drinking water.
In spite of such poor sanitation, no major stomach ailments were reported in up-stream high-altitude villages. This may be due to the cold temperate climate and the upstream position of the villages. Although most village people in these villages are quite prosperous and sometimes own more than 2 houses due to their scattered land holdings, they do not construct toilets.
In downstream low-altitude villages, every summer brings a severe epidemic of stomach ailments especially for children. Vomiting and amoebiosis are a common feature in these villages every year.
Open heap composting near dwellings is another factor that increases health hazards. Cattle sheds in the valley are constructed either adjacent to a single storied house or occupy the ground floor in a double storied house. In most high-altitude villages, temporary structures of wooden beams and thatch (called chhani) are constructed in forests where livestock are kept during monsoons. Throughout the valley, manure is also piled in open heaps near dwellings or in agricultural fields. This method of piling dung gives rise to fleas and other insects, which lead to a wide range of skin-related ailments, especially for children.

4. Primary Infrastructure

a. Road

An increase in road construction started in the valley after 1950 but intensified after the Indo-China war in 1962 when border road were strengthened and border districts of Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh and Chamoli were created. The valley is connected to the main Almora-Srinagar road via Gwaldam and Tharali. The major backbone road connecting various villages within the valley is the Gwaldam–Lohajung road (also called Roopkund road) that is metalled up to Deval. Other minor roads in the valley run from Deval to Suyalkot and from Tharali to Dhandarbaggad. (See Map 4).
However, a very small proportion of the total villages have been connected to the road network in the valley. In fact, as many as 99% of villages at higher altitudes are still inaccessible due to Forest Conservation Act related constraints. In recent times, about 40 km of roads have been sanctioned under various development funds in the valley. It is anticipated that within a decade, almost 50% of the inaccessible villages in the valley would be connected by road.
However, presence of a road does not immediately translate into good connectivity with the major markets. There are many major blockages in these roads in monsoons due to absence of culverts near major streams and landslides in vulnerable points. Roads are blocked for 2 to 3 months between July to October. The valley is thus cut off from the major markets during this peak agriculture season.

Within the valley, the major mode of transport is private jeeps that are invariably packed to capacity and have people hanging from sidebars and sitting on roofs of the jeep. Only two buses are run in the entire day by UPSRTC. Roopkund Paryatan Vikas Samiti, a cooperative of bus-owners in the region, also runs about 15 private mini-buses. Kumaon Motor Owners Union also runs one bus everyday from Almora to Srinagar via Gwaldam. These private jeeps and buses belong to people from the valley and charge exorbitant rates but are popular in the absence of any alternatives. About 20 trucks act as the link between cultivators in the valley and the Haldwani market.

Response to lack of road : The communities in inaccessible villages strongly feel the grunt of marginalisation. Although they can produce marketable goods due to the unique agro-climatic advantage they have, they are unable to diversify into cash crops due to poor accessibility. The inaccessibility is further enhanced because the Government. refuses to undertake road construction in the garb of Forest Conservation. The PWD reports that many proposals for link roads are awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests at State and Central level. This has led to a strong resentment among village people against the forest policies. This is visible from the following :

  1. Ped Kato Abhiyan” : A campaign to fell trees in the forests in the valley was initiated in the valley in 1980s under the leadership of Ramchandra Uniyal, the then Zilla Parishad Pramukh. This campaign received an overwhelming support from the community in the valley. The primary aim was to get clearance for link roads from Debal to Mundoli and Debal to Boragad. The PWD was not getting approval for these roads from the Ministry of Environment and Forest as patches of Reserve Forest fell in the surveyed route. In spite of relentless pursuing of the project by local leaders, the Ministry of Environment and Forest did not clear the project. The local community then decided to fell trees falling in the surveyed route of the proposed road. Many villagers were arrested and prosecuted for this event.

  2. Auli Ropeway project: Another reason for resentment among the people of Pinder valley about lack of roads is connected to a hi-tech cable-car project. The project was earlier planned from Ajan ridge to Aali Bugyal in this valley. The Bugyal has been popular among skiers since British times. Due to lack of an all-season road in the valley and other political pressures, the project was later shifted to Auli bugyal near Joshimath.

Another shocking response of village people in remote villages to prevention of roads from coming to their villages has been to convert fertile area under dense Reserve forest cover into agriculture. Details of the impact of inaccessibility on price of village produce such as potato are described in Chapter 5. To counter the excessive cost they have to pay for mule transport such villages are increasing the scale of production by bringing vast Reserved Forests areas under cultivation. On an average, it is estimated that each household has “encroached” into 50 naalis of Reserved Forests lands. The advantage of cultivating in cleared forest lands is that the productivity in the beginning years is very high. Such villages report that for one kg of potato seed, yields of 30 to 40 kg are obtained. Also, a consolidated patch of land is obtained that is normally not available in existing revenue villages due to fragmented land holdings. Thus we see that the Forest Conservation Act is having quite the opposite effect and is leading to more encroachment and destruction of forests.

b. Telephone Exchanges

The three telephone exchanges in the valley at Gwaldam, Tharali and Deval are defunct for a major period round the year. Telephone towers set up near Gram Panchayat Offices are also largely defunct. As a result, information about latest market rates of various produce is not available to farmers, due to which they have to undergo distress selling in Haldwani mandi.

c. Electricity

Only 70% of villages in Tharali Block and 33% of villages in Deval Block are electrified. Most of this electrification is centres on villages that are well connected by road. As many as 80% of high-altitude and mid-altitude villages are deprived of electrical power. Even in electrified villages, electricity is available only for few hours a day and sometimes it disappears for days at length. Thus any new schemes for electrical power targeted at inaccessible villages are received warmly by village people, as visible in the Solar Light programme in Waan, where each and every household has accepted solar lights and are maintaining them.
On the other hand, ample hydropower potential exists in the valley. Many perennial streams on which numerous gharats are run show that decentralised power generation can be done in the Pinder valley. NEDA has tapped this potential at some upstream sites (Ratgaon, Tharali, Bursol) and down-stream sites (Melkhet). However, there is no scheme for training the numerous educated and unemployed youth or technically trained ex-servicemen in such power generation. The existing Microhydel schemes set up by NEDA and GBPIHED are also reported to be working intermittently.
Thus even though ample potential exists in the valley for production, utilisation and export of electrical power, the potential is being wasted due to poor Government. schemes and initiatives. The irony lies in the fact that the valley provides good opportunities for production of eco-niche based cash crops such as off-season vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants, stone and fresh fruits, flowers, milk products, etc. which could be value-added for a boost to local economy. Problems such as inadequate health and transportation services could also be overcome if electrical power was available.

d. Public Distribution Service

Most villages in the valley are heavily dependent on PDS services for meeting the food grain requirements for about 4 to 8 months in a year. PDS provides wheat, rice, kerosene and sugar. The PDS system is managed by Cooperative department. While earlier PDS was managed through Cooperative Societies, of late these have been privatised and contracted to concerned Gram Panchayat. The Gram Panchayat suggests the name of dealers from their village. These dealers are then appointed for providing PDS services. In the high altitude villages, the dealers are not able to transport the commodities in one lot and hence distribution of the commodities is done thrice in a month, as and when the material is brought up from the roadhead.

Also, the transportation cost is charged from the consumer unlike in Himachal, where the Government allots a budget for transportation. The dealer is also given a commission of Rs 6 per quintal/100 litre of wheat, rice and kerosene distributed. Most dealers especially in high altitude villages also exaggerate the loss in commodities during transportation of goods and earn money by selling this “lost” food grain in the open market. In spite of such an elaborate arrangement, village people still have to purchase food grains and other commodities from the open market. The quality of food grains that is distributed under the PDS is also reported to be extremely poor at times.


Box 4 : Case study of Public distribution system in Manmati
In village Manmati it was reported that 98% of households purchase such as wheat, rice, sugar and Kerosene from the PDS all round the year. These commodities are provided on the basis of Ration Cards. There are 280 cardholders in Manmati Gram Panchayat. The commodities is distributed on basis of the units entered in Ration Card. The calculation of units is done by adding up adult and non-adult members of the family. The total units in the Gram Panchayat is 1400.
The PDS commodities are collected from Deval. Deval receives its quota from Rishikesh during normal road conditions and during blockages via Haldwani or Gairsain/Gwaldam. The Village PDS dealer purchases and distributes these commodities thrice in a month because of the inaccessibility.


Price at Deval

Overhead costs



Weighing+loading charge: Rs 8/q

Deval to Suyalkot: Rs 40/q

Storage charge at Suyalkot: Rs 3/q

Suyalkot to Manmati: Rs 100/q

Total Rs 1.51/q OR

By mule: Deval to Manmati: Rs 187/q







Dealers prefer to transport commodities on mules from Deval to Manmati as the wastage is very low and the items reach the same day to the village. Whereas if commodity is brought by Jeep, it can br brought only up to Suyalkot. The commodity has to be repacked in such manner that they can be in transported on mule back. Sometimes if the items reach to Suyalkot late in the evening, the commodity has to be kept in storage for which extra charge of Rs 3/quintal is paid. Moreover the chances of theft in such a case are high.

Overhead expenses of commodity (except sugar) transported from Deval to Manmati are borne by the cardholders. The dealer earn a commission of Rs 6/q commission in kerosene , Rice and wheat. No commission is paid on Sugar.

Quantum of PDS items distributed in Manmati Village





Mangshir to Phalgun

30-40 quintal

Chait to Kartik

20-25 quintal


Jeth to Bhadon

10 quintal

Ashoch to Kartik

20-25 quintal


12 months

7-10 q/month


12 months

220-250 lit/month

nother fallout of inaccessibility is that many dealers refuse to give the food grains (especially in the case of wheat and rice) in retail and ask consumers to purchase collectively so that he can save the trouble of weighing the allotments individually. In such a situation, only the better of are able to provide money for bulk purchase while the poorer are not able to purchase these items. They therefore get left out from the rationing and have to purchase smaller amounts at a higher rate from he market. Box 4 below shows the situation in The PDS system in village Manmati.

C. Worldview of people in Pinder valley

The enhanced literacy level and improved accessibility through road network in Pinder valley facilitated a faster flow of information from plains to the valley on the one hand and on the other, greatly transformed the psyche of the community in the following ways:

1. Trends and impact of migration in the valley

Improved access enabled village people to tap job opportunities in army, state and central government services. With more and more persons going out for jobs, the general awareness level in the valley changed. After an exposure to a more comfortable lifestyle in the outside world, the local community started comparing the state of development in their valley vis-a-vis that in the plains. A feeling that it was better to migrate than continue to bear drudgery in this place began to grow. (See Box 5 above on migration in Kurad).

Box 5 : Impact of Migration in Kurad Village
The village Kurad is situated 12 km from Tharali. It was set up about 400 years ago. 275 households of Brahmins and Harijans reside three hamlets.
Due to the high inaccessibility and scarcity of forest and water resources, village people have started opting for jobs in Government. & Private services in the plains. Due to the high dependency on jobs, migration from the village is increasing day by day. Currently, 32 persons from the village are employed in the Army and 10 in other Government. services. The economy of the village is therefore becoming more dependent on remittances
Migration among Brahmin families is higher compared to Harijan families. About 20 Brahmin households have so far permanently migrated to Bindukhatta (13 households) & Udham Singh Nagar (7 households). Migration among youth is also very high and about 50% of total youth have migrated to the plains for employment after completing their education. These youth barely spend one or two month in a year with their families.
In the past, social status of a family was assessed in terms of total land holdings, number of cattle population and income from agriculture and animal husbandry. Today, employment in the Army & State Government has become the new assessment standard and a symbol of social status in the village. This is visible in marriage negotiations in the village, as parents prefer to marry their girls to persons employed in these services.
Impact of Migration :

  • Increased workload on women that leads to poor health status of women and children.

  • Education of children has suffered because of workload on them and lack of guidance at home.

  • The migration of educated mass degrades social developmental works in the village as only old and illiterate persons are now left to play an active role in village development.

  • Migration has also greatly diluted the traditional cultural system because some of the migrated youth have started indulging in liquor and other social evils.

  • An overall decrease in animal husbandry practices is reported.

  • With more people preferring to marry their girls to in-service men, dowry has emerged in marriage negotiations and demand for dowry is now fast on the rise.

Persons who became economically sound through jobs in the plains decided to settle down in their place of work, such as in Delhi, Dehradun, Haldwani, Meerut, etc. due to the significantly better quality of life and services in these places and due to better opportunities for education and jobs for their children. Numerous second or third generation families are now found in major cities.

The relative affluence of these families in turn motivated their friends and relatives to also migrate to these cities, with the guidance and financial support of older settlers. This trend of permanent migration to the plains was at a peak during 1970-1980.
In spite of permanent migration, most of these persons maintain emotional ties with their left-out relatives in the valley. They visit their ancestral place once in a few years to attend marriages, worship local deity and sometimes to escape the scorching summers of the plains. Many migrated families still feel a cultural alienation in the plains and tend to stick together at their places of work.

However, most elders in the migrated families have by now acquired a dual cultural identity. While on the one hand, they are unable to shake off their roots, on the other, they are also unable to cope with the high-drudgery and the demands of their traditional community structures. As a result, most such families are not able to stay for long periods at their places of residence. They also miss the better entertainment opportunities and different intellectual environment that they received in the plains.

By the late 1980s, however, opportunities in the plains began to be curtailed seriously due too increased competition from other groups. As the quality of education fell in the valley, it became very difficult for boys from this region to compete for jobs in the Army and other services. As a result, migrating youth were forced to take up menial jobs in hotels and restaurants as dish-washers and waiters. When they compared their social status and drudgery in the plains, they increasingly felt it was better to stay at home.
However, the lure of improved facilities remains. Thus a recent trend in the area is to purchase land and shift dwellings to locations near the roads. Important market centres such as Gwaldam, Tharali, Deval, Talwari are in the process of rapid urbanisation. Most facilities by Government departments have centred on locations in valleys and mid-altitude accessible villages. The availability of better facilities near major market centres in the valley has also dampened the craving of people to migrate to the plains. Other factors that added to this dampening were increasing real estate prices in the plains, increase in social crimes and pollution and recurring social disturbances in the plains. The economically better and vocal populace that now occupies places near Block and Tehsil offices have started influencing the administration to bring more government schemes for the development of their villages.
2. Increase in social evils

A distinct negative impact of the increased interaction with the outside world is reflected in an alarming rise in gambling, alcoholism and hence an escalation in sale of country and English liquor. Liquor mafia is also reported to be very active in the area. Alcoholism has now become a status symbol and is practised openly in marriages and socio-religious functions. In fact, when the District administration disbursed Rs 1000 per agricultural household towards earthquake relief, the sale in Government. authorised liquor shops rose is reported to have increased to an astounding Rs. 40,000 to 60,000 per day.

Woman have been the worst affected by such social evils especially in low altitude villages as their drudgery has increased and health deteriorated in spite of the presence of male members at home. In some villages Mahila Mangal Dals have launched a campaign against bootleggers from their village (as in Mundoli).
3. Increased workload on women

A trend observed especially in accessible villages has been the increase in social evils described above on the one hand and the high male migration on the other. Due to this, the workload and responsibilities of women have increased considerably. Women are thus much more emotionally attached than men to the natural resources in the region, which provide them solace from household strife as well as forest products for survival in myriad situation. Their strong attachment to natural resources is reflected in myriad local fights among women over ownership and use issues related to livestock, forest and agriculture fields. Box 6 below shows the details of activities undertaken by women in various months in Pinder valley. This shows the drudgery that women have to bear.

Box 6 : Workload on women in Village Mundoli



Animal husbandry


Chait Mid-April to Mid May

FYM application, terrace repair, Potato planting

Collect Green leaf for sheep/Goat and cattle

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Baisakh Mid May to Mid June

Ist Hoeing in Potato, sowing of Chuwa

Collect green grass from forest and private land

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Jeth Mid June to Mid July

Iind hoeing in Potato, Ist hoeing in Chuwa, Harvest wheat, Uwa, barley

Collect green grass from forest and private land

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Ashad Mid July to Mid Aug

Iind hoeing in Chuwa, Harvest & thresh wheat, Uwa, barley,

Collect green grass from forest and private land

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Sawan Mid aug to Mid Sept

Weeding in Chuwa, sowing of Phaphar

Collect Leaf litter, wash wool

Collect fuelwood, Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Bhadon Mid Sept to Mid Oct

Digging of Potato

Harvest grass

Attend mela, Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Asoj Mid Oct to Mid Nov

Digging of pot. Harvest chuwa

Harvest grass

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Kartik Mid Nov to Mid Dec

Harvest & threshing of Chuwa, sowing of Wheat, Barley, Uwa, Sarson

Harvest grass

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Mangshir Mid Dec to Mid Jan

Harvest grass, grass stacking in heap, collect leaf litter

Collect fuelwood, Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Poosh Mid Jan to Mid Feb

Collect Green leaf for sheep/Goat and cattle

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Magh Mid Feb to Mid March

Transport and apply FYM in fields

Collect Green leaf for sheep/Goat and cattle

Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

Falgun Mid March to Mid April

Land preparation for Potato and Chuwa

Collect Green leaf for sheep/Goat and cattle

Collect fuelwood, Clean cattleshed, fetch water, cook food, clean house, wash cloth, attend children

4. Portrait of retired army men in the valley

As stated above, one person from almost every five households in the valley has a person serving in the army or is a pensioner. Thus in-service or retired army men form a large proportion of the society in the valley. Due to the recent conflict in Kargil, the social status of army men has significantly increased in recent times.

However, these army men face a deep trauma of adjustment after their return from Army service. They feel a distinct change from the disciplined army life to the highly undisciplined civilian life. They also do not feel useful in the society and are able to go back to traditional occupations only with considerable effort. Civilians, on the other hand, largely consider them as persons without any independent thinking. This friction in a retired army man’s life leads him to frustration and drives him to alcohol, which is amply supplied by the Government. Thus over time, a large number of army men become irrelevant to the society.
To overcome the trauma of adjustment, in a very few cases some retired army men have also come forward to become Panchayat representatives. Some have started working as jeep or taxi drivers or have started other businesses.
The irony of the fact is that most of these army men are trained in technical and semi-technical skills, which are sorely needed by the society for advancement. Two examples will suffice to demonstrate the lack of policy thinking on the issue :

  1. A number of army men from Mechanical and Engineering services of the army (particularly GREF and Bengal Engineers Corps) come from the valley. These men have well-hones skills in repairing and running mechanical devices. There are innumerable gharats in the area that can be upgraded for electrification and much-needed power be generated for use in local industries. However, no mechanism for tapping the skills of these retired men exists today.

  2. Many villages in remote areas are still highly inaccessible. Simple link bridges and ropeways would increase accessibility and reduce drudgery of transportation manifold. The skills for designing, installing and running such ropeways exist in the retired army personnel. Once again, no policy thinking and mechanism results in wastage of skills in the area.

D. Conclusion

Thus we see that the Pinder valley is in a transition stage from a traditional caste-based, pastoral-agriculture economy to a modern, migration and cash crop-based economy. Village people, especially in remote villages, are denied basic facilities and services. National and global interests for forest conservation are forcing people to remain marginalized from the mainstream of development. There is a strong and justifiable anger that is visible among people for the current situation. On their part, people are forced into a situation where they end up destroying the very natural resource base that they know makes their existence in the valley sustainable.
However, the current natural resources and social scenario is a result of a number of historical forces that have affected the psyche and the natural resources of the valley. We trace briefly the historical process that the Pinder valley has undergone in the past 200 years in the next chapter.

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