Leh: The Indian Army is grappling with a new enemy.
High consumption of tobacco and alcohol by soldiers
deployed at high altitudes has set alarm bells ringing and
concerned over it, the force has decided to curtail the
consumption of these products among its men in areas like
Karu, Leh, Siachen and western Ladakh.
"It has been decided to ban guthka sale inside the Army
cantonment in higher altitudes and troops here will be advised
to cut down on alcohol consumption when at any social
gathering," Major General KM Balsara, General Officer
Commanding - Trishul, 3rd Infantry Division, said.
This was decided in a two-day seminar titled `Highland
Panacea on lifestyle diseases` held for the first time in
cloudburst-hit Karu region in Ladakh last month.
"Guthka and alcohol consumption is high among our troops
located in higher altitude, thus becoming a cause of many
diseases. For their disease-free-future, we need to sensitise
them about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, especially when in
higher altitudes. That is why it has been decided upon to
curtail the consumption of these items among our men," he
Colonel IVS Gahlot, Colonel Medical - Three Infantry Division in Karoo region, said, "We have found that those residing in altitudes as high as 11,000 to 18,000 feet too are being diagnosed with lifestyle diseases. Obesity, heart
disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and chronic
obstructive lung diseases among Army and civil population are
becoming quiet common here now."
"Alcohol and guthka consumption is high among our troops
over the years. This has happened because consumption of
alcohol is a culture in the Army and most of our troops are
from rural background where guthka consumption is rampant," he
The Three Infantry Division had carried out relief and
rescue operations in this area after a cloudburst had caused
flash flood and mudslide that resulted in devastation.
"The higher altitude air is too cold. Rare oxygen
presence and decreased physical activity is adding to the
unhealthy lifestyle. It is affecting the oral hygiene and
also discourages exercise among troops. As such we have
decided to increase the consumption of fruits rich in fibre,"
Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Abraham, Director Health, said.