"I have travelled to almost every part of the Chauhar valley and witnessed the backwardness, poverty and helplessness of the locals. The valley's residents need special attention to overcome their problems as well help in coping with modern life," said Subhash Thakur, a prominent social activist of the Chauhar valley.
He added there are places in the valley that remain cut off from the rest of the world for over eight months in a year due to snowbound areas and lack of road connectivity.
"People here still have a traditional lifestyle and use age-old methods of cooking. Modern facilities like cooking gas, electricity and gadgets like TV and computers are still a distant dream," he added.
Thakur appreciated local MLA Kaul Singh and former MLA Dina Nath Shashtri for initiating steps for development in the valley and raising the issue with central government. However, their efforts have been
unsuccessful because the latter has not yet accorded tribal area status to the valley.
"I am thankful to National Commission for 'Schedule Tribes' vice president, Ravi Thakur, who is also the MLA representing the Lahul-Spiti area. He had recently visited the Chauhar valley to see for himself the tough conditions of the area and assured the residents efforts would be made to have the Chauhar valley included in tribal areas," he said.
Subhash stated Thakur has realized the fact that certain sections of the valley's populace were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness. He has taken up the issue of according tribal area status to the valley with the central government for speedy development of the region, he added.
Subhash, however, added he has asked Ravi Thakur to keep off community based criteria for granting tribal status as was done in the case of the Kinnaur and Lahu-Spiti areas in the state. "Financial, geographical and socioeconomic conditions should instead be the criteria", he averred.
Subhash noted the Chauhar valley has a lot of potential to attract foreign tourists as the area is situated at a high altitude. "However, 70 per cent of the villages in the valley are still not connected with all-weather motorable roads, otherwise the area could have been a more popular tourist draw than both Shimla and Manali", he observed.
The Chauhar valley has 13 gram panchayats with a population of more than 30,000, of which about 19,000 are elgible voters. The valley is dotted with scenic places like the Parashar lake and a trout fish farm at Barot. An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) was recently set up in Kamand village. The valley's highest mountain peak is Bhubhu Jot at 9,405 feet above sea level. The area is dominated by various communities including Rajputs, Dalits and Gujjars.