Dismal irrigation facilities, poor sanitation, civic woes in Pulwama

No visible development by Khalil Band

Suhail Bhat

PULWAMA: Issues ranging from traffic congestion, poor irrigation facilities and ineffective disposal of waste topped the list of people’s priorities in the Pulwama constituency. Besides these issues, unemployment is worrying the educated youth of the constituency.
The whole constituency is facing multiple problems including broken roads, shabby or missing sewerage, insufficient portable water and an absence of adequate health and educational facilities. Several localities also complained about lack of connectivity to their areas.
Spread over 150 villages, the Pulwama constituency in Southern Kashmir has nearly 1,94,000 voters. It has been represented twice by Khalil Band, former Minister for Agriculture Production and former Member of Legislative Assembly of People’s Democratic Party. He was elected by defeating the Congress candidate, Sanuallah Dar, by 6636 votes. However, people alleged that under his tenure there was no visible progress on the development front.
At Pulwama Town, which is considered business hub of the constituency, people said that failure of authorities to dispose off the waste on scientific lines is posing a serious health threat to the people, besides the number of stray dogs has also shot up in the area. “The entire town is strewn with piles of unattended garbage making the whole area look untidy, ” Bashir Ahmad, a local said, adding that in absence of a proper dumping site roadsides and stream banks were covered with litter piles which besides posing threat to environment invites diseases .
The residents also complained that a local irrigation canal-Doebi Koil-that runs through the main market of Town has been ravaged by discharge of waste, siltation and encroachments, bringing misery to the people. “The carrying capacity of the canal has been declined sharply, causing frequent choking and inundation of nearby shops and houses,” a local said, adding people have raised illegal structures on the canal at several places and continuous dumping of waste into its waters have turned it into a cesspool.
Over the last few years most of the people have converted their land into apple orchards, but due to poor irrigation facilities, the quality and production of the crop is yet to improve. The residents accused Government of overlooking their demands of proper irrigation facilities. They said they have been asking the Government for the irrigation facilities to their apple orchards so that apple production enhances in the area but authorities failed to act.
The Horticulture Department data suggested that nearly 60 percent of the newly formed apple orchards are without irrigation, affecting the quality and quantity of crop. Several irrigation facilities that were initiated by the Government have either been dented by the scarcity of funds or callous approach of administration towards them.
Wasoora Irrigation scheme which caters to Wasoora, Payer, Zakoora and other places is lying defunct and people charged Government with showing indifferent attitude towards them.
The orchardists said lack of irrigations facilities on Chandgam Kareva and Tahab Kareva is badly affecting their apple crop. Besides, they said, the lift irrigation along with the Dogripora canal need to be improved. The irrigation canal at Puchal village is also incomplete, locals complained. “The irrigation will enable us to induce mixed crop culture in the area which will help in fetching money from other crops and can revolutionize vegetable cultivation,” an orchardist said, adding: “The crop in Pulwama is ready by the first week of September. At that point of time, there is no competition and the fruit fetches more money.”
Nearly 15 kilometers towards the eastern side of the constituency two incomplete bridges -Dogripora and Reshipora – are causing inconveniences to the residents of several villages including Naina, Panzgam, Reshipora, Chandigam and Hari. The locals said in absence of the bridges, they have to take a long detour to reach National Highway. “We have to either travel to Awantipora or board overcrowded fishing boats to cross the river to reach the highway,” Mohammad Lateef, a resident of Dogripora said, adding “for last one decade people were awaiting completion of the bridge”.
People who come to the district headquarters of Pulwama for the redressal of their issues said newly constructed mini secretariat complex in Pulwama district has failed to serve its purpose due to shortage of space to accommodate various district offices. “We were expecting that the time consumption in inter-department dealings will be cut down by bringing them in proximity to each other but authorities have only moved only a few departments in the cramped building. This is not serving any purpose and is useless,” Mehraj Din Bhat, a local said.
He added the three-storey complex was constructed with an aim to have all important district offices under one roof for the convenience of the general public but some important offices like the Tehsil office, Health, Power Development Department, Social Welfare and many others are still functioning from outside.
The residents of Ratnipora said that in the year 2004, their village, which is the most populous village in Pulwama district and is surrounded by a cluster of villages, was included to a list of 62 villages that were to be developed as model villages under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme. However, in 2009 when it was officially announced as Model village, a defunct street lighting, poorly fenced graveyard and mismanaged drainage system is what people got. The residents have been demanding a primary health centre to cater to the health services of over 30,000 population. “Despite multiple requests to the Government nothing has happened,” Nazir Ahmad, a local said. People have also been demanding upgradation of the High School as several girls have left studies for lack of Higher Secondary School as they cannot afford time and money on travel to other places,” Arif Ahmad, a resident said.
A few kilometers away at Lajoora village, the residents lamented that the health centre in their area lacked diagnostic facilities. “For a simple blood test we have to visit district headquarters. The healthcare facilities here are below par,” a local said. The residents have been also demanded upgradation of the High School in the area. “The students have to travel long distance and it has led to increase in dropout rate,” a local said.
Residents of Koil village said that their area sans health care facilities. “The primary health centre in our village is without doctors and necessary types of equipments. It’s being run by paramedic staff,” Ali Mohammad, a local said, adding the building for the health centre was constructed in 2012 but was never put to use.
Several villages including Trich, Balpora, Reshipora, Naina, Panzgam, Reshipora and Chandigam complained about the lack of clean potable water in their areas. As per locals the Public Health Engineering Department has failed to complete at least four water supply schemes -Reshipora, Trich, Kharbalpora and Palpora. The residents said they are facing water shortage because of the failure of authorities to follow these projects.
Khalil Band, former Minister for Agriculture Production and former Member of Legislative Assembly list a series of projects that he said were taken up during the last three years. “Fruit Mandi was constructed to boost the trading activities, Nehama- Banagund irrigation scheme was completed and the defunct water pipes were replaced at Pinglana village”, the former lawmaker said.
“For the enhancement of healthcare facilities”, he said, “CT scan was installed at Pulwama district hospital and an x-ray machine was procured for the primary health centre of Lajoora. A community hall at the Pulwama Town has also been constructed for the people”, he added.


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