HIRANAGAR: Part of Kathua district, Hiranagar Assembly segment is known as land of martyrs and warriors which has produced great patriots who laid down their lives for national cause and total integration of J&K with India during the Praja Parishad movement of 1952.
The Assembly segment in sixties and seventies was represented by a veteran Congress leader and a freedom fighter, Pt. Girdhari Lal Dogra for a long time who also enjoyed a lot of respect among the people of this border constituency which has Kathua Assembly Segment in South, Billawar in East and Samba in North while in its West lies Indo -Pak border.
The constituency since 1996 Assembly poll has maintained a record of not repeating the MLA twice. In 1996 Prem Lal of BJP was elected from this Assembly segment while in 2002 Girdhari Lal of Congress emerged victorious from here.
However, in the Assembly election of 2008, Durga Dass of BJP was elected from this Assembly segment and in 2014 Kuldeep Kumar also of BJP won from this Assembly seat after the party changed the candidate in view of involvement of Durga Dass in alleged cross voting in 2010 MLC elections.
The main problem being faced by the people in the constituency is that they often become victims of border shelling during Indo-Pak skirmishes and people of border belt have to abandon their houses and take refuge in safer areas. Their crops get damaged in the shelling while the land is not being cultivated which is near the fence and some times even people attain martyrdom and cattle also get killed in border shelling.
This being a long standing problem of the people, the successive Governments in the State as well as at the Centre have failed to find an everlasting solution to this issue. However, the people are jubilant over the recent decision of the Government regarding granting of reservation to the border belt at par with LoC people and term it the greatest decision of present dispensation at Centre and they give due credit to Modi Government, Governor of the State, the local MP and ex MLA as well.
So far as the performance of ex MLA Kuldeep Kumar is concerned the people have a mixed response on his working. While some people showed their satisfaction with the ex MLA’s performance, there is another section of people in Hiranagar constituency who have some reservations about his working.
They are of the opinion that MLA’s performance should not be measured with the construction of roads and lanes or bridges for which funds came under Central Road Fund (CRF) and other schemes. No schools were upgraded or attention paid to solve the drinking water problem in various areas of the constituency especially in the Kandi belt of Hiranagar.
Having reservations with the ex MLA’s working, they said various areas faced water scarcity and poor voltage problem and this issue was not addressed by the ex-public representative in last three years. Admitting that the ex-MLA could not get full time of six years to serve the constituency, Sanjeev Kumar of Ghagwal, however, said that no positive initiative was taken by him to address these problems.
He said the border roads were developed under the Central Government plan while the MLA could not take any initiative for upgradation of schools and sanctioning of water supply schemes in the area.
As the shelling from Pakistani side haunts the people living near the IB due to border skirmishes, they have much more expectations from their public representative in this belt who too have to discharge added responsibilities towards the people of the constituency, said Balbir Kumar of Sanji Morh Mareen. He said the party had promised recruitment for border people during elections to ameliorate their lot but nothing was done in this regard till date. Moreover, people faced water crisis in border belt as contaminated and impure water is supplied to them through rusted pipes which have developed holes seeping drain water inside.
He said earlier Government during the time of Ghulam Nabi Azad as Union Health Minister had sanctioned 100 bed hospital for Hiranagar to provide immediate treatment of the people injured in border shelling and new Government shifted it to Kathua with the result the people hit in shelling from across the border are to be shifted to GMC Jammu for treatment which is a grave problem for the residents of border belt. The ex MLA despite the repeated pleas failed to settle the issue, he added.
Balbir accused the ex MLA of not keeping any liaison with his voters also with the result people are annoyed with him. No proper development has taken place in the area during his tenure as MLA and there is no staff in tehsil offices while one Gram Sevak has to look after four Panchayats due to lack of staff and this problem could not be settled by the former MLA, he added.
However, Jugal Bali of Hiranagar has all different opinion about the former MLA of Hiranagar and his style of working. He said Kuldeep Raj is most gentle person and he was a novice to politics. It took him first two years to understand the things and when he started delivering the Assembly was dissolved. He said “though I belong to an Opposition party but it will be injustice to say that he did nothing for the Constituency,. “Whatever was expected from him he did that”, added Bali.
He said he utilized entire Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for the development of the constituency and we can’t term his performance as bad because he has maintained a quality of leader though he was novice to politics.
Similar were the views of Ashok Kumar of Gopal Chak, Hiranagar to some extent. He said the MLA constructed lanes, installed transformers and sanctioned hand pumps in villages. But people in border belt are annoyed with him as he did not visit there especially when they were in trouble due to shelling from across the border to ascertain their problems. He said bridges were constructed in the border belt during his tenure but people living five kms near to Zero Line alleged that no attention was paid to construction of roads in their area.
Terming the performance of MLA totally dismal, Ganesh Kumar of Hiranagar Morh said no worth mentioning work was done in their area during last three years of Kuldeep Raj’s term. He said the people in the area are facing worst problem due to environmental hazards created by foul water which enters their houses near Hiranagar Morh Flyover after the drainage nullah especially in rainy season over floods. The nullah brings entire filth and drain water on road and it enters the houses of the people but no attention was paid to give it a proper treatment though issue was taken up with the local MLA number of times, he added.
Besides, no Safai Abhiyan was launched in the area though some officials for tokenism participated in Safai Abhiyan in the area on few occasions but the filth and garbage lying in the area has been no body’s concern. The water supply motors often get burnt and no body bothered to restore them for weeks together.
B L Kandley a political worker of Pathwal a border village which is six to seven kms away from Zero Line said the ex-MLA had no link with public. He said people in his area were facing water scarcity problem, besides, all the lanes are in bad condition and former MLA paid no attention to construct or renovate them. Accusing Kuldeep Raj of not doing for SC Bastis during his tenure, he said they faced multiple problems but former MLA did not bother to settle them.
He said SCs in villages of Pathwal Surura live in abject poverty and he completely ignored them. The Government had allotted land for SCs in the area and that land has been grabbed by mafia. Despite the repeated pleas the ex MLA could not take up this issue, he added.
But a sizable number of people however praise ex MLA for his good performance saying he deserves full credit for the development of the area. Bartendo, Sarpanch Rajpora said in his area a lot of developmental works were done by ex MLA. He said Rs 2.50 crore were spent for power, water and road construction in his Panchayat by ex MLA.
He said Rs 86 lakh were got sanctioned for tube well by ex MLA and they received one installment of Rs 42 lakh and rest is coming soon.
The former MLA gave three transformers of 250 kv each in the area, besides, Rs 32 lakh were sanctioned by him from his CDF. Rs 28 lakh were sanctioned from BADP for alternative road joining Rajpora with border villages. Moreover Rajpora Sunjana one Panchayat constituting of two villages were given Rs 20 lakh under BADP to join these villages and lessen distance from Rajpora to Sujana.
Bartendo said that the MLA gave Rs five lakh to 1971 refugees for construction of Cremation Ground in the area.
Vijay Sharma of Naran, Muthi Ghagwal said that former MLA has done good work in the area. He sanctioned two irrigation works and two tube wells and laid PHE pipes, constructed lanes and roads.
The ex-MLA, however, said that he left no stone unturned in the development of his constituency. While giving details, he said Rs 13.92 crore were spent on black topping in Hiranagar town and adjoining areas, while Rs 13.32 were spent on various roads in his constituency under PMGSY schemes. Besides, under NABARD Rs 17.50 crore were spent on construction and renovation of roads and Rs 12.00 crore were spent under CRF for construction of roads.
Kuldeep Kumar said Rs 50 crore were incurred on construction of bridges on Tarnah Nullah, Bai Nallah and Landi Bobiya Nallah. In addition to it Rs 50 crore were got sanctioned for construction of Maba to Kotpunno road, Rs 38 crore for National Highway to Londi road, Rs 50 crore on Chadwal to Sanji Morh, Haria Chak to Pharpur road.
He said under BADP Rs 20 crore were spent on link roads while Rs 24 lakh were sanctioned for Mini Stadium at Jandi. For Model village at Kotpunnu Rs 12 crore were sanctioned, he added.
Kuldeep Kumar said Rs 1.50 crore from CDF were given for lanes and drains. Two degree colleges were sanctioned in Hiranagar constituency one for Mareeen and other for Ghagwal while four High Schools in the constituency were upgraded to Higher Secondary Schools. For improving drinking water facilities 100 deep hand pumps in many villages were sanctioned, besides two tube wells were constructed one at Nichla and another at Sathura.
To improve power supply 15 new transformers were sanctioned while 30 were upgraded and protection works in different areas were also sanctioned to save these villages from flood fury and land erosion.
He said approximately Rs 323 crore were spent on the development of constituency under various schemes.