Kupwara faces neglect, people of far flung areas worst sufferers

Ex-MLAs’ Report Card, Constituency: Kupwara - Bashir Ahmad Dar (PC)
Ex-MLAs’ Report Card, Constituency: Kupwara - Bashir Ahmad Dar (PC)

Ex-MLAs’ Report Card, Constituency: Kupwara – Bashir Ahmad Dar (PC)

Waseem Ahmad
KUPWARA: Kupwara constituency of North Kashmir has not seen much development despite choosing a new representative in previous Assembly elections and people in this hilly area grapple with daily issues of life, like drinking water, road connectivity, health care and electricity issues.
The Assembly constituency of Kupwara is a part of Baramulla Parliamentary constituency. It was represented by National Conference (NC) legislator, Mir Saifullah for 18 years in past but in 2014 Assembly elections; Bashir Ahmad Dar of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) emerged as winner with 24754 votes. He defeated Mir Fayaz of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with a narrow margin of 151 votes.
The inhabitants across the constituency have complaints against their former legislator as they suffered for want of basic facilities and nepotism in terms of development. “There is no sign of development in the constituency. Successive Governments did nothing to develop the constituency while people continue to face series of issues.” they said.
The residents of the Kupwara town complained that the town sees a brisk business and movement of the people from across the constituency and is the face of the constituency but the former legislator has failed to develop it. “The town has not been developed at all. It lacks basic facilities like parking for vehicles, space for vendors, public parks, lanes and by-lanes in the town are completely damaged. There are hardly street lights in the town. In past some lights were installed but they are lying defunct,” they said.
They added that there is no dumping site available in the town and the garbage is being dumped on the river banks polluting the river as well.
The inhabitants of almost all the villages complained that the roads, lanes and by-lanes are completely damaged and have not been developed while people have to face immense hardships.
Residents of Trehgam area said that the Trehgam to Poshpora road is in complete shambles. “The road is in dilapidated condition and full of potholes. It was never macadamized. It becomes impossible to walk during rains as the ditches are full of water. The elderly persons and the school going children are the worst sufferers. Besides, the transporters refuse to ply on the road as it gives bumpy ride to people and damage vehicles as well,” Bilal Ahmad, a resident said.
The residents of other villages who complained of similar problem include Dolipora, Haayan, Pharsmarg, Tammin and Burnambal. They also said that no macadamization took place in their areas. “We have raised the issue of pot holed roads with our legislator, he promised repairs of these roads and macadamization but nothing was done”, residents said.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that they have to face water crisis as the water supply schemes are lying defunct and streams or tube wells are the only source of water for them. “Various water supply schemes were sanctioned and started but they are lying defunct. People are facing water crisis and are depend on streams and tube wells. They have to use unfiltered water for drinking purposes that results in outbreak of deadly diseases,” they said.
The residents of various areas including Trehgam, Hanjipora, Haayen, Reshigund, Gaejriyal, Varsun and Hadayi complained that they are facing water scarcity issues. “Lot of money was spent on a water supply scheme in Kunan and Poshpora but the scheme is lying defunct and people of the area and the adjoining villages have to suffer due to non-availability of clean drinking water,” Farooq Khan, a resident of Poshpora said.
Although electricity sector improved in some villages of the constituency but several villages complained that they are not being provided electricity properly and often witness frequent power cuts. “Whole constituency is facing electricity issues. The electricity sector has improved in only few areas like Kunan, Poshpora and Hanjipora while as several villages including Varsun, Manchattar, Champora, Panzgam, Marsarr, Burnambal, Kralpora, Aloosa, Samathlora, Haayin, Zurhum and Mandhum are facing electricity issues,” the residents said.
They also said that the electricity poles and wires were never upgraded and the condition of them is same as it was decades ago. “In every constituency, funds are released for the improvement of the Poles and wires but in our village hardly they were replaced. We have still those old wooden poles and in some villages wires have been tied to trees,” a resident of the constituency, Ghulam Nabi said.
When it comes to the health sector of the constituency, the inhabitants alleged that the sector has dismal performance in the constituency as the health centers are in shambles due to lack of facilities and dearth of doctors as well as other staff.
Residents said the District Hospital Kupwara is facing dearth of staff and also lacked facilities due to which the people are facing hardships and are depend on private clinics or other hospitals. “District Hospital Kupwara does not deserve to be a District hospital. The hospital caters to 120 villages of Kupwara but lack of facilities and shortage of staff is forcing us to visit other hospitals or private clinics,” Riyaz Ahmad, a resident said.
He said the hospital lacks facilities and for a simple ultrasound or Digital X-Ray, they have to visit other hospitals. “Pregnant ladies are referred to Srinagar due to non-availability of Gynecologists. There are six gynecologist posts but only two doctors are available, two anesthetists, three orthopedics in which only one is available. The dearth of doctors has turned it into a referral hospital,” he added.
Residents of Trehgam area complained that the Primary Health Center (PHC) is in complete shambles as the hospital is without facilities and has dearth of staff. “The hospital lacked life-saving drugs, adequate medical, paramedical staff and medical equipment. The hospital caters to several adjoining villages but due to lack of facilities people prefer other hospitals. Medicines are hardly available in the hospital and whenever we ask for medicines, the hospital authorities reply that they have not received the supply yet,” Ghulam Ahmad, a resident said.
The residents of other villages said that the health centres like Kralpora and Drugmulla are also in complete shambles.
Residents said that a bridge in Drugmulla area is incomplete, despite construction work started 16 years ago. They said the construction work on the 450-meters vital bridge that connects dozens of villages with Drugmulla was started in 2002, but the bridge has not been completed yet. “In absence of the bridge we have to face immense hardships. Whenever we have to travel from Chake-Drugmulla to main market we have to cross the river using boats. Women, elderly persons and children are the worst sufferers. To complete a distance of just one kilometer, it takes us more than an hour,” the locals said.
Mohammad Shaban, another resident said that they have to risk their lives by using boats as it becomes difficult for them during rains to cross the river.
Another bridge that has not been completed is the Poshpora Bridge despite passing 13 years. The villagers of Poshpora had been demanding its construction for the past several decades and in 2005, the foundation stone was laid for construction of the bridge and the work was started, however, the residents said after one year, the construction process saw a halt and in 2012- 2013 two more columns of the bridge were constructed and work again came to a halt. “The construction material like iron roads and other stuff got rusted and became debris. A lot of material got washed away with floods,” Muhammad Hussain, a resident said.
The other bridges that are under construction include Kunan and Aloosa bridges. Residents of the constituency said that the Central Government schemes like PMGSY and MGNREGA in which politicians have no role are done by contractors and workers who are affiliated with the ruling party.
They also said that despite works under MGNREGA being done, the bills are still pending. “The contractors as well as labourers have not been paid despite works done years ago. Some amount was released for the labour charges but material charges were not released,” they said.
The farmers of the constituency said that their paddy and vegetable land has been eroded and washed away by gushing flood waters in Kehmil stream and they have been demanding bund and leveling of the land but the demand has not been fulfilled. “We met the former legislator several times but to no avail”, they said.
The residents of Drugmulla, which has been named ‘Model’ village in 2007, said the village faces shortage of drinking water, has no electricity and the sub-district hospital has no staff.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that Government schools in the villages lacked infrastructure and are housed in dingy wooden rented rooms with no toilet and drinking water facilities. Besides, they said some schools are in dire need of up-gradation.
Inhabitants in Zonrashi, Khanabal, Manzpathri, Reingward, Marsari, Manchatri also complained that they face water shortage, electricity crises in their areas. The inner link roads and lanes in all these villages are in dilapidated conditions.
Despite repeated attempts by this reporter to reach out to the former MLA of the constituency, Bashir Ahmad Dar for his comments, he was not available.