Lahul is located in Trans Himalayan region. It is a high altitude cold desert, characterized by rugged terrain lofty mountains and dry weather. Mountain locked Lahul remains isolated from broad social run of life for almost 6 months a year. Social life in this Himalayan region revolves round village gods and Buddhist monasteries. Bereft of complications of life and complexities of modernism, Lahauli cloak their grief in religion and live the hard life they are destined for ancient times. Call it a topographical constraint or indifference of the successive governments.
The tribal area of Lahul has just been left to its fate in more ways than one. woefully inadequate infrastructure, poor means of transportation, bad roads, limited land holding, short working season ,non existence of industrial units, interrupted communication network lack of proper medical facilities, no specialized technical college, ITI or convent school are all these reasons and factors which compel Lahauli to migrate to lower areas ,where better facilities are available.
It is relatively younger generation, and educated unemployed youth whose aspirations are not fulfilled in Lahul in comparison to other developed areas, which compels them to migrate and settle in those areas where conditions are conducive and all sorts of facilities and infrastructure is available. Nobody would deny that unlike other districts of Himachal Pradesh, Lahul does not have even mini or micro industrial units, except hydro power.
Time has now come for Lahauli to reap the benefits of development, in near future. After opening of Rohtang tunnel and commissioning of mega hydel projects and Manali -Leh highway becoming all weather road. Immediately after scene changes, the lifestyle, accessibility and need of the people will drastically change. Local entrepreneurs and educated unemployed youth of the valley go in for setting up of many agricultural, horticultural and local resources based big and small units, tourist inflow in the valley, construction of new hotels would suddenly create more self employment opportunities in this sector of tourism related activities. Also opening of new educational institutions and health centers on private sector would revolutionize the life of the Lahauli.
With the opening of Rohtang tunnel distance reduced to 2 hrs. From Keylong to Manali the nearest market, the scope for business of dairy farming and poultry would also increase manifold. The per capita energy consumption will also increase. But above all, before all this could happen, Lahauli need ponder over one of the most vital sector of energy development to convert their dreams into reality well in time. After tunnel all earlier inhibiting factors restricted establishing industries and hydro projects in Lahul would become viable and stable. Lahauli now certainly need eco-friendly hydel projects to cater to their future needs of the development. Lahauli entrepreneurs are now excited enough to explore more untouched areas of Lahaul for further investment in choice of their projects, with fast upcoming hydro projects, power generation and their completion well in stipulated time. For establishment of industrial units, construction of hotels and various other small projects, energy sector has to be strengthened. Practically no activity is possible without invoking the transfer of energy. With depleting resources and environmental concerns, efforts should be made to develop alternate resources of energy like water which is cheapest, pollution free, inexhaustible and renewable resource. Lahauli geographical conditions are conducive for hydel power development and have tremendous scope in future. But some vested interest organizations are bent on depriving the innocent tribal people from reaping the benefits of development. Such campaigns should be vehemently opposed. Yes, the locals have every right to ask the project developers to develop the projects in sustainable manner with their active involvement association and participation.
Mohan Lal Relingpa