‘Hit by drought, Kashmir nomads shifting closer to urban centres’

Jammu: Hit by unprecedented dry spell in the higher reaches, nomad tribals in Jammu and Kashmir have started shifting to plain areas close to cities and towns in the Jammu region, a tribal rights body said on Sunday.

“Facing extreme deficit of fodder for their animals due to insufficient rainfall, the drought-hit families of Gujjars living in hills of Jammu and Kashmir have started shifting along with their cattle towards the plain areas, nearer to cities and towns, in search of cattle feed and water,” the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, representing nomadic tribals, said in a statement.

The foundation said 15,000 cattle had perished in the last few months as the crippling drought persisted and most of the tribals were struggling to stay alive, it said.

Tribal researcher Javed Rahi, who presided over a programme here, attended by nomadic communities representatives, to discuss consequences of the issue, said that tribal Gujjar and Bakarwal (goat-herds) raise cattle, goats, sheep and horses, and are the main animal rearing communities of the state.

“These communities are facing acute shortage of fodder and water in many areas due to deficiency of rain during the last few months.

“The water resources in hilly areas are drying down rapidly as a result of which the nomads along with their animals are shifting to other areas,” he said.

Noting that some other states of India which are facing similar situations have supplied cattle feed and fodder at nominal cost extending 90 per cent subsidy to nomads and tribals, he urged the Jammu and Kashmir government to take similar steps.