Comprehension 6

Comprehension passage 6 …

Over 300 domesticated yaks were found dead in the higher reaches of North Sikkim due to starvation. The yaks, belonging to about 25 families of herders and farmers in the Lachen area, went to Mukuthang and Yumthang valleys of North Sikkim – situated close to the India-China border – for grazing last December. However, due to heavy snowfall, the road was blocked, forcing them to stay put in those areas without food.

Though the yak owners reported the issue to the local administration before moving to lower reaches, the motorable road to the areas situated above 15,000 feet couldn’t be cleared due to heavy snowfall. Though an attempt was reportedly made to drop food for them from a helicopter, bad weather conditions prevented it.

Early this week, after the road re-opened, the sub-divisional magistrate accompanied by officials of the state’s Animal Husbandry Department went looking for the herd with food and found the carcasses of over 300 yaks. As per local news reports, while 250 of them were found dead in Mukhuthang, at least 50 carcasses were retrieved from Yumthang.

District magistrate Raj Yadav told reporters that attempts were being made with the help of a team of ITBP personnel stationed in the area to save the yaks who were found alive. He said the state administration has approved compensation of Rs 30,000 for each yak to the owners, as they make a living out of cattle rearing. However, no single owner would be compensated for more than three yaks. [Passage taken from The Wire dated 12. 5. 2019. We acknowledge it gratefully.]

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Comprehension questions …

  1. What disaster has befallen on 25 herder and farmer families of North Sikkim?
  2. Why nothing could be done to bring the yaks home?
  3. What did the Animal Husbandry department officials find when they went there recently?
  4. What emergency measures were taken to feed the yaks, and why it failed?
  5. What the government is doing for the owners of the dead yaks?

Answers will be posted before May 15.

ANSWERS …

Q1. The families that owned the yaks and reared them for their living lost the animals en masse. The yaks were trapped in an area in the upper reaches of North Sikkim  that saw heavy snowfall. Since the snow blocked the return route, the yaks couldn’t couldn’t come back home and were starved to death in that extreme cold environment.

Q2. The unusual snowfall made the grazing grounds of the yaks completely isolated. The road coming down was blocked. Bad weather made it impossible to air drop food for the yaks from helicopters. The yaks were doomed to death.

Q3. The animal husbandry officials were horrified to see the carcasses of some 300 yaks lying on the ground. Only a handful of the yaks had survived the ordeal, but were also barely alive.

Q4. Fodder was airlifted by helicopters to feed the yaks, but the flights had to be aborted on the face of hostile weather.

Q5. The government is compensating the farmers by paying them Rs.30,000 per each dead yak, subject to a maximum of three yaks per family. But, such compensation can never heal the wounds in the minds of the herders who had reared the yaks with tenderness.

 

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