Thursday, August 11, 2016

In the line of Duty

It was the winter of 1987 or perhaps 1988 . The state was going through a critical phase of severe drought conditions.I was posted at Pooh in Kinnaur District . The Government of the day in its wisdom decided , as a relief measure , to provide fodder ( Tudi ) for the cattle at a subsidy of Rs. 20/- per Quintal . The transportation costs were also to be met by the Government.It was decided to bring Tudi from Chandigarh or adjoining places. As per orders of the superiors, I accompanied by a Veterinary Doctor and another official proceeded towards Chandigarh with requisite amount in cash . The situation in Punjab and Chandigarh was not normal those days , so some risk was also involved.It was a gruelling exercise , moving from one place to the other in search of Tudi of good quality , as the Veterinary Doctor , who was an expert in the matter, would not compromise on quality and rightly so. Daily we would land at a different place for night stay in some improvised private guest house with minimum of facilities. After three four days, we found the right stuff - shining white – in an adjoining village called Dhanas . The rate appeared reasonable at Rs 95/- per quintal. Now, transportation was to be arranged. We hired four trucks from the Transport Area belonging to Himachal State, each carrying on a average 25 quintals only keeping in view the hill area where Tudi was to be taken .We journeyed back in trucks only as Tudi, being Govt. purchase could not be left to the mercy of Driver and helper.
Starting from Chandigarh at odd hours, we had to stay for the night at Shimla. Proceeding for the destination the next morning, night fell 40 km short of Pooh at a place called Akpa. It was the month of December , and the weather and climate chilly. There was no way except to sleep in the Truck , to ensure safety of truck and the stuff it was carrying. I particularly want to make mention of the driver, who did not allow me to spend a penny on the way on tea or lunch/dinner insisting that the owner of the truck allowed him food expenses on daily basis. Not only this, he gave me blanket etc to cover myself during the night, it’s another matter, that I could not get a wink of sleep. For a while I cursed myself for having left a comfortable sedentary Bank job – the tag of a G.O sneering at me. 
Starting again the next morning, The truck was unloaded at a suitable place on the road side , from where it would be easy for the needy people to carry Tudi to their respective places.
The further task of distributing also fell to me. All is well that ends well .The effort was worth it as the result was good. The stuff was so good that there was more demand from various quarters. Since it was not possible for me to go and fetch it time and again, I gave the address of the seller to the concerned representative of the people and they brought it on their own.
It was a first experience of the kind for me.

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