Budgam constituency least developed in Kashmir

Waseem Ahmad

BUDGAM: The Budgam constituency, where Srinagar Airport is located shares boundaries with Srinagar City, but is the least developed in Kashmir valley. The residents of the constituency felt neglected on the developmental front as it continued to face multiple problems including water scarcity, potholed roads, power crisis, road connectivity and poor health care facilities.
Since 1977, the constituency is represented by the National Conference first by their former MLA Ghulam Hassan Geelani and then by Aga Syed Ruhullah. Aga defeated People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Bhat (Muntazir) by a margin of 2787 votes in 2014 Assembly elections. Aga polled 30090 votes and Bhat 27303. Aga has represented the constituency thrice in a row.
The constituency’s main areas are Peerbagh, Humhama, Sheikhpora, Ompora, Narkara, Bathar, Budgam town, Yacchigam, Choon, Jehama, Mirgund, Sepdan, Dooru, Bemina, Galwanpora, Haran, Soibugh, Hajibagh, Paimus, Sangham, Dharmuna, Gotpora, Wadwan, Arath, Naidgam, Chatbugh, Sahpora, Garind, Nasrullahpora, Putlibagh, Chandpora, Labartal, Dadna, Waterani, Sholipora, Paris, Abadpora and Wahabpora. Majority of these areas have complaints about drinking water, potholed roads, power crisis and poor health care facilities.
The residents of the constituency said that the main roads towards other towns or constituencies including Budgam to Chadoora, Budgam to Charar-i-sharief and Budgam to Beerwah of the district are in dilapidated conditions. “Work on some roads was started earlier but the projects were unnecessarily delayed and the repairing of the roads is still incomplete,” they said.
Soibugh is one of the biggest centrally located villages of the constituency and people here have to face various problems. The major demands of the people are about widening, upgrading and macadamization of various roads including Narbal-Budgam Road, Parimpora-Wadwan Road, Soibugh-Bemina via Khumani Chowk Road, Soibugh-Bemina Road via Hanjik Sharifabad and Wadwan Kakanmarg road via Wahabpora-Gariend.
The residents of Soibugh, Dharmuna said that the areas were electrified during seventies (1960-1970) and since then one receiving station at Wadwan has been constructed more than 10 years ago. Another receiving station has been sanctioned for village Soibugh during 2018, but no work has been taken up as on date. Besides, they said the demand for replacement of 50 years old electric poles and electric wires is pending for the last two decades.
The residents complained that the area is worst hit in the Health care sector due to lack of facilities in the Sub-District Hospital (SDH) Soibugh. “Patients are forced to either visit JVC hospital, District hospital Budgam or SMHS for petty matters. Despite some testing/diagnostic infrastructure/equipments is available but neither the required staff is available nor power backup during electric brake down is available. The demand for Gen Set for the SDH Soibugh was projected more than 10 years before but remains unfilled till date,” Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident said.
The villagers also demanded that land in the village should be acquisitioned for housing all Government Offices under one roof such as Zonal Education Office, Naib Tehsildar Office, Block Development Officer, Agriculture/Horticulture Offices, Social Welfare Department, etc.
They also complained that all major irrigation canals have either been blocked due to the slit which has been piled up during last more than two decades or have been encroached. “The removal of encroachment from these canals ordered after the 2014 floods has not been seen in the area as a result of which rains of 5-6 hours flood the residential areas,” they added
Danish Ahmad, a student said that despite having mushroom number of Government schools in the area, the schools are mostly without proper accommodation, besides they lack in quality education and do not have other infrastructure available as a result people prefer to get their children educated in private schools. “The area has no proper sports fields and youth have to use Narabal playground which is more than 7 Km away from the area,” he added
An elderly person, Abdul Gani Dar said that despite the offices of both Agriculture and Horticulture departments in village Soibugh, their existence is equal to zero as no major project has been taken up by the department, except supply of fertilizers and seeds, which also is supplied majorly to politically affiliated people who have neither agricultural land nor orchids.
One of the major issues faced by the inhabitants of this constituency is the pollution caused due to the brick kilns. As per a report, out of 300 brick kilns operating in Kashmir valley, more than 260 are located in Budgam district alone.
The residents said that the black smoke billowing out from the hundreds of chimneys has affected human life all around, the environment, the flora and fauna. “People living near the brick kilns have become afflicted with deadly diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, lung cancer, urinary tract disorder, skin allergy and infections in eyes. These illegal brick kilns have acquired hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile agricultural land and turned it all barren. The thick smoke coming out of the chimneys hovered over the town in the morning as well as in the evening. This menace has been brought to the notice of higher officials repeatedly, Muhammad Hussain, a resident of Budgam said.
He said there is no plantation around the kilns and huge layers of dust settle down on crops, houses, everything and nobody pays any heed. “The smoke and dust have adversely affected visibility, reduced growth of vegetation, and severely damaged the ecological balance. It has affected human health as well,” he added.
The residents of the main Budgam town said that there is no proper drainage system and the Municipality doesn’t clean the lanes and by-lanes in the town. “Drainage system in the town is defunct. The town also faces problem in proper water supply and frequent power cuts. The street lights in the town have been installed years ago and only the old ones are being repaired but new lights were hardly installed anywhere,” the residents said
Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Budgam said that people have to face problems in District Hospital Budgam as several tests conducted in the hospital always vary whenever they are being crosschecked from somewhere else. Besides, during night hours, doctors are hardly available in the hospital.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that the Government schools in several areas are without proper infrastructure and lack basic facilities. “A Government school at Jawalapora is without proper facilities. The school has no proper infrastructure. The building of the school is in pathetic condition. The doors and windows are broken, they are often being covered with polythene,” Imtiyaz Ahmad, a local said.
He said another school that is without proper infrastructure is a primary school at Naid Mohalla. “Despite staff available, the school has accommodation problem and also lack basic facilities,” he added
The residents of Mamat village complained that a bridge in their area was washed away years ago and has not been constructed after that. “A temporary bridge was constructed by Army but that too got damaged. The area often remains disconnected during heavy rains as the heavy flow of water in the stream overflows through the temporary bridge,” they said.
The areas like Wadwan, Gutpora, Arath, Chattabugh, Naidgam, Wahabpora, Shahpora, Haran and Garend have similar problems on water scarcity, erratic power supply, pot holed roads and lack of proper health care facilities and poor transport facility. The residents of Wadwan said that village is least developed despite having high literacy rate village and has produced renowned doctors, scientist and educationists.
The residents of Garend said that 1500 kanals of orchard land at Bacchi Wudur land has been taken over by brick kiln mafia and hundreds of trees have been felled and several brick kilns have been constructed. The villagers fought tooth and nail but they have political backings and are grossly violating Brick Kilns Act.
Abdul Satar of Narkara village said that the bigger issue that the village and its adjoining areas like Narkara, Bathar, Ompora and Gangbugh are facing is filling of wetland by the land mafia as State land and Rakhs and farms land is being filled. They said that the mafia has political backing and residents are helpless.
He said that this has led to collapse of irrigation system in the area and once the vegetable bowl has turn hundred of kanals of land as non-productive. He said the best paddy of the Kashmir valley was grown in the area and that land now suffers due to lack of water.
The residents of Hajibagh village, situated few kilometers away from Srinagar said that they are worst sufferers as the village is situated on the borders of two districts- Srinagar and Budgam due to which they are skeptical about the administrative matters. “People in this village have to face immense hardships as whenever we approach authorities about any issue in the village, we are either sent to Budgam district headquarters or Srinagar district headquarters. People are always skeptical about the status of their village,” Bilal Ahmad, a student said. “We raised the issue with the former MLA but to no avail”, he said.
Besides, he said the village is the most neglected one and people are facing various problems including no transport facility for the area, dilapidated condition of inner roads, erratic power supply, water scarcity etc.
The residents of another area close to Srinagar, Khomeni Chowk Bemina belonging to this constituency also complains that the area lacks basic facilities.
They said the area is dotted with dilapidated roads, has erratic power supply, lacks proper drainage system, poor educational infrastructure and poor public healthcare facilities. “Due to lack of drainage facility, water is trapped in ditches and roads. The lanes and by-lanes are often submerged in water. HT and LT lines are in total disarray and need immediate repair,” the residents said.
While providing details on behalf of the ex-MLA Budgam, Aga Syed Ruhullah, his spokesman said that 78 kilometers of roads were macadamized at the cost of Rs 28 crores under NABARD and R&B.
As per the details, Gund-Wadwan-Wahabpora road was developed at the cost of Rs 3 crores, Paller Lakhripora road at the cost of 3 crores and Shoolipora-Parisabadpora road at the cost of Rs 2.50 crores. Under PMGSY, Khomani Chowk-Dandoosa road was developed at the cost of Rs 6 crores, Hakermullah Laribal road at the cost of 3 crores and Nendwanpora-Wahabpora road at the cost of Rs 5 crores.
In Health care sector, the spokesman said the Primary Health Centre (PHC) Soibugh was upgraded to Sub District hospital and new hospital buildings were provided to village Parisabad, Sholipora, Soibugh, Ichigam, Choon-Wahabpora and Gogo. Besides, under Constituency Development Fund (CDF) 250 KVA Gen set was provided and 6 Latrine points were constructed at District hospital Budgam at the cost of Rs 31 Lakhs
He said three high schools were upgraded to higher secondary level at Humhama, Wahabpora and Bemina while as three middle schools were upgraded to high school level at Nasrullahpora, Galwanpora and Daharmuna. Besides, 64 schools were provided fencing, walling, water facility and Lavatory blocks.
As per the details, four new receiving stations were provided at Choon, Shoolipora, Soibugh and Ompora. LT/HT wires were improved under Barbed wire Scheme and TND Scheme at the cost of Rs 1 crore each. Under CDF, 24 transformers of 250KVA, 58 OF 100 KVA and 20 of 63 KVA at the cost of Rs 3 crores were provided in the constituency.
It was also said that new water supply schemes and new pipelines were provided to Budgam town, Labertal, Gariand Kalan, Gogo, Khanpora, Churapora, Arath Nadegam, Ompora, Gotapora, Tekipora, Watrawani and Dadina. Besides, two bridges were constructed at Nasrullahpora and Zoorigund and three Community facility centres were also constructed in the constituency.
Under CDF, the spokesman said lanes, drains, bunds and fencings were constructed at various places at the cost of Rs 6.90 crores while under MPLADS fund, new panels for receiving station Budgam at the cost of Rs 30 lakhs, Paneling for Community hall was done at Budgam at the cost of Rs 20 lakhs and three roads were constructed at the cost of Rs 10 Lakhs.