At 3,000 m, Nanda Devi Reserve forest guards battle extreme cold, snow without proper gear
Rajendra Kunwar, a forest guard posted at the Peing beat in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve at a height of 2,400m, said that forest guards are not able to patrol at night during winter months because of lack of sleeping bags.Updated: Jan 14, 2019 15:32 IST
Braving extreme cold conditions and heavy snowfall, forest guards posted at Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve continue to patrol their assigned beats, at times even without proper equipment.
The Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR), a world heritage site identified by the Unesco, is situated at a height of above 3,000 metres in Chamoli district. As the protected site is closed for expeditions from October to April due to extreme weather conditions, the threats of poaching and hunting activities increase when the areas are inaccessible due to snow.
Mann Singh, director of the reserve, said that forest guards are able to patrol till Dibhrughata near Lata village that acts like an entry point to the park during the winter months. “Our guards are not able to go beyond Dibhrughata as it is extremely inaccessible. Even when we dispatch teams for expeditions in the areas beyond Dibhrughata, we have to take the help of the armed forces and Indo-Tibetan border police,” said Singh. He said that bridges are made with ropes for venturing into those areas.
Two patrol parties with six members each, stay at the last patrolling point, Dibhrughata. However, these guards are only able to patrol during the day covering around 12-13 kilometres in their respective beats.
Birendra Singh Rothan, secretary of Forest Guards’ Association in Chamoli, who is posted in NDBR, said that patrolling is carried out in areas like Dharasi, Lataghan and Lata. “If there is less snow, we are able to patrol till 3,500- 4,000 metres above the sea level in the core area of the national park,” said Rothan.
He added that chances of poaching are high during winters due to which patrolling is intensified. But guards lack basic equipment and gear, including snow boots. “We have around 40 snow boots for patrolling in the area. These are allowed to be uses by guards in batches,” said Rothan. He added that the guards have to wait at checkpoints till the first team comes back so that they can use the boots.
Rajendra Kunwar, another forest guard posted at the Peing beat in the park at a height of 2,400m, said that forest guards are not able to patrol at night during winter months because of lack of sleeping bags. However, jackets and warm socks are provided for day patrolling.
First Published: Jan 14, 2019 15:30 IST