KARNAH: The Karnah constituency situated along the Line of Control with Pakistan remains cut off from rest of Kashmir valley in winter and lacks basic amenities like irrigation, healthcare, education, phone connectivity and electricity.
Karnah is an administrative tehsil in the Kupwara district. The Assembly constituency of Karnah falls under Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency. Raja Manzoor Ahmad of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) defeated Kafil ur Rehman of JKNC by a huge margin of 5775 votes in 2014 elections. Ahmad polled 12371 votes and Rehman polled 6596.
One of the biggest issues that the constituency is facing is the frequent accidents and closure of Sadhna pass and residents are demanding a tunnel to be constructed to save the future generation from accidents.
The residents said that several tragedies occurred on Sadhna top for last 60 years and no step was taken to avoid such tragedies. “About 11 persons including an official of the border roads organization were killed in two vehicles when they were swept away by snow avalanches at Sadhna top last year. Similar tragedies occurred on Sadhna top earlier also but authorities are turning a blind eye towards the issue. We have been demanding a tunnel at Sadhna top so that there is round the year road connectivity,” they said.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that the long pending demand of granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status has not been fulfilled to them. “We are demanding for ST status from several areas but no one pays heed to our demand. Granting ST status will help us in availing various facilities and reservation in various sectors,” Mohammad Younis, a resident said.
He said the Gujjar community has been given this status but Pahari people who live besides them have not been given this status. “Politicians often campaign with this agenda at the time of elections but no concrete steps are being taken to resolve the issue. Only the three percent reservation was given recently but the actual demand of the people was neglected,” Mohammad Younis, a resident said.
The residents said that the former MLA assured them on these two vital issues and also raised these issues several times in Assembly Government but nothing happened on the ground.
The residents complained that the health care sector in the constituency is in pathetic condition and the hospitals are facing shortage of doctors, besides, lack of basic facilities.
As per the residents, the Sub-District hospital Karnah is facing dearth of doctors due to which people have to face immense hardships. “There are 27 posts of doctors sanctioned in the hospital but only ten doctors are posted there and hardly any specialist is among them. Three to four Gynecologists should be available in the hospital but there is only one male Gynecologist in the hospital. No child specialist is posted in the hospital. Only one surgeon has been posted and whenever he is on leave, people have to suffer. Besides, no physician is there. Patients are often being referred to other hospitals,” they said, adding, “The hospital is 20 bedded, it should be upgraded up to 100 beds.”
In Tangdhar area, dearth of doctors and lack of proper infrastructure in Sub-District Hospital (SDH) Tangdhar is making the patients of this hilly region suffer and forcing them to cover long distance for treatment.
The residents of the area alleged that in absence of proper health care facilities in the hospital, they are forced to visit private clinics or other hospitals and spending huge amount of money.
They said the hospital lacks basic facilities including medicines, availability of doctors, theatre facilities, cleanliness etc. “The non-availability of a child specialist, dermatologist, gynecologists and other specialist doctors in the hospital is taking a heavy toll on the patient care. For a simple checkup, we have to take our children or pregnant women either to Srinagar hospitals or private clinics,” Abdul Razak, a resident of Tangdhar said, adding: “The critical patients who are referred to other hospitals often die on their way.”
Another resident, Ghulam Mohammad said that the worst sufferers are the pregnant ladies as due to the non-availability of a gynecologist, they have to consult private doctors for a mere check up and during the time of a delivery case, they have to hire a private cab that charges a huge amount to reach Srinagar hospitals.
The residents said that the hospital also lacks Para-medical staff and they are being forced to conduct simple tests like USG from private clinics.
The residents of Keran also complained that in Primary Health Centre (PHC) Keran, only two doctors are available and none of them is a specialist. Besides, several health centers are locked due to dearth of staff.
The inhabitants of the constituency said after the earthquake of 2005, scores of schools buildings were damaged and 13 years have passed but the buildings are yet to be completed. “Although various buildings were constructed after the 2005 earthquake but construction of some school buildings like middle school Nachiyan and school in Gabra are yet to be completed. Besides the schools are also facing shortage of staff,” they said.
The residents also said that they were promised border tourism will be started in the constituency but that decision was also approved on papers only and nothing was done to boost the tourism activities in the area.
Keran remains cut off from rest of the Valley during winters and residents face lot of difficulty during winters. Residents said that they were promised better road connectivity but to no avail.
The Teethwal residents said that they have been demanding that a trade centre be established in the area so that they will be able to do trade across the border like people used to do before partition. “Teetwal area is on the Line of Control (LoC) and before 1947 there used to be a Trade Mandi and people used to trade their goods with other Mandis across the border but it was stopped after the partition. Now if Uri and Poonch were made trade Centres, why was Karnah neglected. It should also be given a trade Centre so that people of the area will be able to do trade across the border,” they said.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that various irrigation schemes are lying defunct and farmers are finding it difficult to irrigate their lands. “The new irrigation schemes were not provided and the old ones are lying defunct. Farmers have to face problems to irrigate their lands. For instance, in Teetwal, a canal was being constructed but it has not been completed despite work going on from several areas,” the farmers said.
The residents of Sadpora, a village in Karnah near Line of Control (LoC) said that they have to face hardships in irrigating their fields due to non-availability of wa-ter for irrigation as the water they receive comes from across the border and it often comes to halt due to unknown reasons.
“We receive water from across the border and often it is being stopped due to unknown reasons and this blockage results in a catastrophe for us. It is after a flag meetings the flow of water is allowed. We have several times approached the authorities to resolve this issue and provide us water here so that we don’t have to depend on the water from across the border but no one is paying heed to our pleas,” they said.
The residents living around the Shamsbari hill complained that they have not been compensated after a cloudburst led to flood like situation in the area and hundreds of houses as well as shops were washed away.
The inhabitants said that the electricity sector of the constituency is pathetic and various villages have not seen the electricity till date. “Funds were provided under various schemes like Deendayal scheme and Sobhagaya scheme but almost all the areas of the constituency are facing electricity issues. The electricity wires are still erected on the temporary poles and often the wires fall on the ground and people are left without electricity for days or months. Besides, various areas were electrified but there are still some areas like Keran that have not seen the electricity till date. Despite wires laid and transformers installed, people are still waiting for the electricity,” they said.
They further said that a 12 Megawatt Power project in Kazinagh area was approved but the work was not started at all.
Another problem that the residents of the constituency are facing is the phone connectivity. The far flung areas like Keran are facing immense hardships due to no phone connectivity as the mobile phone towers are yet to be installed in the areas.
The residents also said that although essential commodities are available on the ration depots but they lack employees. “One employee is given the responsibility of handling two to three ration depots,” they said.
The inhabitants also complained that the roads in all the areas were not developed and are in dilapidated condition. “Karna road that is under BEACON from Sadhna to Teetwal is in pathetic condition and from past 30 years, the road has not been macadamized. Besides, the link roads like Tanghdar to Gabra, Hijitra, Dhani, Sadpora, Charkunji, Jabri, Teetwal, Jhaara are in dilapidated condition and people are facing immense hardships in travelling. Various projects were also constructed for their development but they were never initiated. A road in Farkiyan and Datbridge is in dilapidated condition and neither R&B nor BEACON is taking the responsibility of repairing the road,” they said.
This reporter made several attempts to contact former MLA Raja Manzoor Ahmad for comments but he was not available.