Apple town of Sopore in utter shambles

Waseem Ahmad
SOPORE: The apple town of Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district is in utter shambles due to apathy as the inhabitant’s say they are being neglected for boycotting the elections.
The Sopore constituency was represented by former Member Legislative Assembly Abdul Rashid Dar of Congress who defeated Nazir Ahmad Naikoo of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2014 Assembly elections with a margin of 2755 votes. Dar polled 8429 votes and Naikoo 5674.
Residents of the constituency said the problems like garbage disposal, land appropriation, lack of proper medical care, electricity and traffic woes are among the issues facing the once-prosperous township.
The residents, who are mostly associated with apple business, claimed that they are the highest tax payers but even the 10 percent of the money is not being spent on its development.
As per the residents, the Sopore town is not too far from Baramulla district headquarters and should have been equipped with all modern facilities due to its proximity. However, the locals said they have been neglected systematically for their refusal to vote in the elections.
“We are being deliberately neglected in terms of development as most of the people boycott the elections and refrain themselves from voting. Our legislators tell us straight away that people do not vote here, so they are not worthy of any development. Whenever, we approach the legislators with our complaints, they always gave the same reason,” the residents said.
Sopore town continued to crumble under the garbage it produces as authorities fail for years to finalize a dumping site for the town’s garbage due to which streets, markets, roads and riverbeds are getting overwhelmed by the garbage, posing dangers to the environment, water and the health of residents.
The residents said that the town that was once called as “Chota London” for its prosperity has literally become the garbage town and the small roads and illegal encroachment of footpaths further adds to the chaos.
“Sopore sees an overwhelming traffic and shoppers daily. But nothing has been done to address the problems of traffic jam and vehicle parking issues of the people. The town has 40-year-old Bus Stand which has not been macadamized for last 30 years,” Adil Ahmad, a trader said
He said the vendors in the town have encroached roadsides and footpaths making it difficult for commuters and leads to traffic mess in the town. The residents of Sopore town are struggling with dilapidated roads.
The roads leading to villages of Sopore and other colonies within the dare full of pot-holes. “The roads in the town, be that the main road or the link roads which connect the town with the inner residential colonies, are dilapidated, and pot-holes have plagued them. The bumpy rides due to bad roads have hampered our business besides annoying commuters,” Baseer Ahmad, a resident said.
They said several new residential colonies came up in the town during the last 30 years as population has been increasing but the roads leading to the colonies are also in dilapidated condition and have not been developed; besides the drainage system is defunct.
“Residential colonies roads like in Hanfia Colony, Crankhshen Colony, Maharajpora, Sofi Akbar road, road from Court to Iqbal Nagar and Crankhshen Colony, and road along Yasin Shah Market which connects Sopore with Dangerpora at Police Station are full of pot-holes which have left hundreds of residents irked,” the residents said.
Residents expressed their resentment over the inordinate delay in completion and the slow pace of work on Sopore – Shiva road project and pathetic condition of the road. “The road has developed potholes due to which commuters face a huge inconvenience. Particularly, patients and students,” Nazir Ahmed, a local resident said.
The residents said that the road which connects almost six major villages of the town has affected the business and other activities in the area. “Nobody here knows why there is inordinate delay in completing this project. The pathetic road conditions force us to take link roads to reach the Sopore town. Those routes consume more time and fuel as compared to the main road,” they said.
They said that the issue of pot holed and dilapidated roads, lack of macadamisation was taken with the former MLA but to no avail.
The residents said that they are dependent on a single water supply scheme for decades due to which they often face water scarcity issues. They said another water supply scheme that was sanctioned for the constituency is defunct as it has to lift water from the Wullar lake. “Water is being provided for only one or two hours. We have several times approached authorities to provide a water supply scheme to the constituency that will lift water from Jhelum river but our pleas were neglected,” they said
The youth of Sopore said that there is no stadium in the constituency and the existing stadium is in shambles due to which they are finding it difficult to play outdoor games. Besides, there are no public parks available.
The inhabitants of the constituency said that they are dependent on the private institutions as the Government run institutions are in shambles.
They said the schools from Primary to Middle class level are pathetic as they lack infrastructure and basic facilities. “We have two Higher Secondary Schools in Sopore, one for boys and other for girls. We have often requested the concerned authorities to upgrade some High Schools to Higher Secondary Schools but nothing was done. The only Degree College built some 40 years ago, has same accommodation which it had then, despite increasing roll of students manifold. There should be another Degree College in the constituency,” the residents said.
They said the only higher secondary school for girls is facing dearth of space as almost 1500 students are enrolled in the school and for them there are only eight classrooms. Besides, there are only two washrooms available and they do not have a playground as well.
The inhabitants of the constituency said the state of healthcare and its related infrastructure has gone from bad to worse.
They said the Maternity and Childcare Hospital in Sopore is craving for improvement in basic facilities to patients and has dearth of staff as well. “The hospital is plagued with problems – primarily shortage of doctors and staff nurses. The hospital sees a huge rush of patients from Sopore, Bandipora and Kupwara areas. At least, 100 pregnant women visit the hospital everyday but due to dearth of doctors, the patients get least care in the hospital,” Basharat Khan, a resident said.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that the Sub-District hospital Sopore that sees a huge rush of patients from Sopore and adjoining areas like Bandipora, Rafiabad, Handwara and Kupwara but lack facilities.
They said the hospital has dearth of staff, however, more than thousand patients visit the hospital every day. “There are no specialists available in the hospital. During night hours, specialist doctors are hardly seen and often patients are being referred to other hospitals,” the residents said.
Health facilities like primary health centers, sub centers and dispensaries in other villages and localities reflect the dismal state having staff dearth and lacking basic facilities.
The Inhabitants of Sopore town and its adjoining villages also complained that they have to face unscheduled and long power cuts, besides; the electricity poles and wires have not been repaired from years.
The aggrieved people from the town and about 20 villages of Zaingeer belt said they were facing unprecedented power cuts.
The residents accused the PDD of not adhering the curtailment schedule. “We are not getting even 8-10 hours electricity in 24 hours. Our children do face lot of problems,” the residents complained.
The Apple growers of the constituency demanded that they should be provided the spray oils or pesticides or fertilizers that are used in the orchards at subsidized rates as their price in the market is increasing day by day.
The traders associated with the fruit business said that the fruit mandi Sopore where all the apple growers trade their cash-crop lies in shambles as it has no proper macadamized road and also lacks other facilities. Besides, they said, there should be a separate truck terminal where the trucks can stay as they are often seen on roadsides leading to traffic mess in the area.

The former MLA of the constituency, Abdul Rashid Dar, while providing details about the developmental works carried in the constituency during his tenure said that about 34 kilometres including Goripora, Magraypora, Adipora, Shair colony, Zaloora, Sagipora and Botengoo Muqam road were macadamized in Sopore town.
He said several roads under CRF were under execution that includes Sopore- Shiva road at the cost of Rs 17 cores, Watlab-Chetkak road at the cost of Rs 14 crores and Sopore-Harwan via Brat at the cost of Rs 11 crores.
He also said that various road projects that were taken up under NABARD include Sopore-Mundji road, Dangerpora inner links, Janwara, Malmapanpora, Hathlangoo inner links and Inner links at different locations were also executed.
Under PMGSY, he said Botingoo Cherhar road, Bomai Shiva road were executed and tenders were also floated for new road projects for Gujerpatti, Panipora and Muqam.
Dar said power receiving stations at various locations like Sidiq colony Sopore, Bomai and Tujersharief were provided. Besides, he said 61 power transformers were installed at different locations of the constituency.
He said construction of a Nursing College in Sopore was started and that is under execution. Besides, he said new Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are under execution at Warpora, Watlab and Dangerpora.
He also said that several Water Supply Schemes (WSS) were upgraded including Shiva WSS and Watlub WSS was equipped with additional line to fed Sopore town.
He further said for youth, play fields were constructed at Dangerpora, Lattishot, Tujersharief and Hathlangoo. Besides, 42 scooties were provided to Handicapped persons out of CDF and 100 cycles were provided to fishermen.