Arunachal Pradesh officials trek 9 hours to vaccinate 16 grazers

Tawang Deputy Commissioner leads team to inoculate villagers of Luguthang at 14,000 ft

Away from home grazing their yaks, 16 residents of Luguthang village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district could not make it to a COVID-19 vaccination camp organised on May 19 at Domstang, about five hours’ trek away.

However, the vaccines reached the homes of the grazers at 14,000 ft above mean sea level on July 12, brought in by a team that trekked for more than nine hours from the nearest motorable road at a place called Thingbu Hydel.

One of the farthest villages in Tawang district, Luguthang is close to the border with Tibet and is aerially 30 km from Tawang. All 10 families, comprising 65 people, in the village are yak grazers.

The district authorities had on May 19 organised a vaccination camp at Domtsang, a village midway between Luguthang and Thingbu Hydel. The camp catered to Luguthang and other villages in the area. Officials said 33 residents of Luguthang in the eligible age groups got vaccinated on May 19.

“This is the time when grazers move out with their livestock to far-flung areas. We sent special messages through trekkers for 16 such grazers, who were left out of the camp, to return home within a specific time for vaccination,” the district’s information officer Nawang Chotta told The Hindu.

Residents of Luguthang village in Arunachal Pradesh’s getting COVID-19 vaccine. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Incessant rain threatened to delay the trip of the vaccination team. But Deputy Commissioner Sang Phuntsok was determined to keep the date with the 16 “left out” grazers.

He and six others, including zila parishad chairman Leki Gombu and health officials, started the trek from Thingbu Hydel at 7:15 a.m. on July 11. They reached Luguthang by 4:30 p.m. that evening after crossing two of the toughest peaks in the district — Nyukteng and Nahchhot.

The route cut through dense forests, swampy stretches and the Luguthang river, a tributary of Tawang Chu several times.

The team held a short meeting with the villagers the next morning after a night’s stay, before the 16 grazers were inoculated by district reproductive and child health officer Rinchin Neema. Senior veterinary officer Thutan Tashi gave free medicines for diarrhoea, deworming and other ailments for the livestock.

“Apart from COVID-19 vaccination, 19 patients were treated for different ailments,” Mr. Phuntsok said after the team returned to Thingbu Hydel on July 13.

“The trip was worth it as all the eligible villagers have received their first dose of the vaccine,” he added.

On the way back, the team visited a stupa constructed in the memory of former Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash on April 30 at Serchungla. The place is about three hours’ walk from the stupa.

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