Nainital: The Khampas of Khimling have been rendered homeless after administration declared the village ununhabitated in 1981 and by default the village vested in government. The Khampas who once formed second line on Indo-Tibet border have been struggling for over 50 years for social cultural and economic existence. Though some have been allotted shops at Nainital, Haldwani and Almora but the home district Pithoragarh has not initiated any scheme for settlement of these villagers.
Plight Of Khampas
The 1962 war and thereafter the end of Indo-Tibetan trade saw an exodus of Khampas from the last and 15th village of Darma valley in a state of sheer distress as there was no economic activity left in the village. However, remaining villagers of the valley could sustain because cultivation was possible there but Khmling, situated at a height of 14000 feet, was solely dependent on trade. The Khampas were couriers of Bhotias having Tibettan horses, mules, yaks and sheep herds which were used to transport goods to Tibetan market collected by Bhotia community of the Darma, Johar and Byan valleys in interior Himalayas. Followers of Buddhism, the Khampas, faced an identity crisis as people of other villages branded them "Tibetans", as it was the only Budhist village in the valley. Fortunately, Minority Commission recognised them as Indians after the villagers produced revenue documents of Indian revenue village.
Today over 100 Khampa families are spread over Nainital, Almora, Haldwani, Shimla, Dehradun etc. and were on the path of progress but the nostalgia of ancestral village was haunting them even now and not only elderly but young generation also wished to revive, rehabilitate and revamp the deserted village which can't even produce potato owing to high altitude. The scope, however, was in cultivating herbs provided government extended support. The precious Himalayan herbs grow naturally around the abandoned village in plenty. The zeal of Khampas may bring back prosperity to village but in the absence of road connectivity and electricity 90 km away at Dar, much can't be expected. The Khmapas have, however, built a Gompa and installed an idol of Lord Buddha in the village sometime in 1985. Almost every family visit the village once in a year.
But technical problem to claim rights over revenue village that was declared uninhabited, remains unresolved. The government schemes like construction of roads, power connectivity and opportunities of jobs under MNREGA were based on the population proportion of each village and accordingly people got benefited. The situation in this particular case was quite different as the village that remained uninhabited since 1981 can't have access to these welfare schemes, hence villagers won't be benefitted by government run welfare schemes, said an official on the condition of anonymity. There were no permanent structures and people partially lived there in makeshift tents.
The development of villages and subsequent gain from government run welfare schemes would depended if people start residing there permanently and get their names enrolled in population register, added the official.
Situation of other villages in the valley, too, was not in line with the tall claims of development by the politicians. At the grass root level it seems the residents of far flung villages in Uttarakhand have no choice left except migrate to other place in search of jobs for survival. The political and bureaucratic apathy displayed in this case only reflected the sad state of affairs that must be prevailing in the far-flung and distant interiors across the state. This is a wake up call for the state machinery. So swing into action or become a witness of exodus.