DOORU: Marred by civic woes and economic backwardness, the residents of Dooru constituency chose People’s Democratic Party candidate, Syed Farooq Ahmad Andrabi, as their representative in last Assembly elections after he convinced them that he will bring change in the area.
The constituency is spread over a hundred villages with a voter base of more than 60,000. The constituency is a part of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district and has a population of 199,429, as per 2011 census. It has been represented by Congress twice in the past. However, in 2014 Assembly elections, Andrabi defeated Congress’ Ghulam Ahmad Mir by a margin of 1000 votes.
Almost four years later, the former Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) has failed to change the fortunes of the residents as they continue to battle for basic amenities: healthcare, clean potable water and road connectivity.
The residents said that the main reason for underdevelopment of the constituency is that the projects that were started earlier are yet incomplete. “The developmental projects like construction of Desa- Kapran Tunnel, Verinag ropeway and Vetasa Engineering College were not taken seriously and the former MLA didn’t pursue their completion”, residents said.
They added that the political workers of the particular party were allotted works under various schemes and no merit was considered. “In the last three-four years the political workers of the former MLA were allotted works under rural and urban development schemes and rest were sidelined,” a resident told Excelsior.
“After winning the elections no one listened to our grievances. Our former MLA had no time for us. He entertained no one but his party workers. People have been denied basic facilities here,” Bilal Ahmad, a local said. He added: “our leader ignored us after elections.”
The people across the constituency complained about the lack of healthcare. The Model Hospital Dooru is awaiting inauguration for the last year and a half. The hospital was sanctioned in 2008 and completed with an estimated cost of Rs 11.5 crores. The residents said that a tussle between locals and administration over the alleged closure of Sub District Hospital and shifting of its staff to the newly constructed Model Hospital in Dooru area of the constituency has stalled latter’s inauguration for last one year. However, shifting of the Sub District Hospital is facing resentment from a section of society. “The former MLA failed to resolve the issue and people suffer”, residents said.
Dooru Traders’ Federation president, Masood Ahmad Boda alleged that they were deceived as they were told that a Model Hospital would be built in their area. “Shutting one hospital and building other will serve no purpose. Initially, they told us that they are building a state of art hospital but they are drifting now and talking about the upgradation of the existing hospital. It means the people living in the main town have to cross several security checks to reach for treatment,” he said.
People alleged that the existing Hospital not only lacks proper infrastructure, lighting, medical facilities but also doctors. They said that pregnant women have to face many problems, as no female doctor remains available in the hospital at night.
The condition of Sub District Hospital (SDH), Dooru, which is the nodal centre for treatment, is pathetic as it lacks proper space, infrastructure and staff. In absence of facilities, these patients from 160 villages of Dooru constituency have to suffer and patients are referred to territory hospitals even for minor complications. The residents said that the former MLA was apprised about these issues facing the medical sector but to no avail.
People complained that the New Type Primary Health Centres (NTPHC) at Verinag, Qammar (Kapran), Hokera and Larkhipora (Subsidiary Hospital) are in pathetic conditions lacking basic facilities.
One of the main attractions of the constituency is Verinag Spring from where emerges the famous Jhelum River. However, the people said that it is not in the tourism map.
The residents said that the natural beauty of the place has been ruined due to the presence of a number of under construction buildings that were meant to improve the facilities for visitors- a number of hotels and cafeterias were built to improve the tourist footfalls. However, the construction of these structures was stopped due to political interference resulting in the defacement of the location and the structures stand abandoned with broken windows, residents said.
Another project meant for improving the tourism in South Kashmir was a ropeway project for Verinag which would have not only offered a panoramic view to the tourist but also made it easier for them to reach the place. The ropeway was planned to create a new ambitious tourist circuit: Verinag- Khanabal- Kokernag-Simthan. But the former MLA failed to pursue the project.
The residents said that the tourism potential of villages Hongipora, Dudwagan, Batagund, Hajidedi and Ghenigund would have been developed by way of developing scenic spots and creation of necessary infrastructure. Besides, the residents said that the increase in tourist footfalls would have opened new employment avenues for the locals.
“The development authority has not done a single developmental work from last three years. Even the pending bills for the work were not released,” Rouf Ahmad, a local said, adding that badly planned construction works have also blocked the entire view of the Verinag garden. He said that the former MLA was apprised about it but nothing moved forward.
Inhabitants of several areas said despite natural springs in the area, there is drinking water scarcity and former MLA has failed to construct a water supply in the area to provide filtered water to the people. They said the majority of the constituency falls on the mountainous region and people have to carry drinking water from a long distance as tap water remains available for few hours a day. The worst affected areas are Nowgam, Trajan, Hengpur, Ringmonda, Zamalgam, Hiller, Pranijan, Mehmoodabad, Brajam, Batagund and Lisser Muqam.
They said the water supply from Verinag canal is contaminated with insects, earthworms and other material. The tap water also turns yellow due to the presence of a huge quantity of silt in it during rains. They said that the former MLA was apprised about this basic necessity but he failed to deliver.
They said street lights are defunct for last several years and no effort was taken to make them functional.
People also said that major bridges have not been completed for the last many years because of which they have to suffer while travelling to the neighbouring villages. Sometimes they have to cover many kilometres which could have been possible in minutes if bridges have been built on the roads. They said that the issue was discussed with former MLA several times but so far nothing has been done.
Farmers also alleged that their fertile land is fast turning into barren, as natural sources of irrigation have died due to illegal mining and construction of railway tunnel.
There is a strong resentment among the residents against failure to construct Desa-Kapran -Tunnel. Lack of tunnel has scuttled the construction of ambitious Doda-Desa-Kapran road. Once complete the road would have linked Doda, Ramban, Banihal and Kishtwar with Anantnag district. It would have reduced the distance between Srinagar to Doda by 90 kilometres by cutting the distance to 140 kilometres through Jawahar Tunnel.
The road would connect several places like Bhaderwah, Thathri and Gandoh Bhallesa which have poor connectivity. Besides, it would have also exposed a number of virgin tourist locations in Deesa.
However, in the last four decades, the Roads and Buildings department, which is the executing agency for the project, has failed to complete the road leaving people dissatisfied with the performance of the former MLA.
The former Member Legislative Assembly of the constituency, Syed Farooq Andrabi, was approached several times for his comments on the issues raised by the people of the constituency but he remained silent.