Nirmal’s performance evokes mixed response

Ex-MLAs’ Report Card Constituency: Billawar
Ex-MLAs’ Report Card Constituency: Billawar

Some credit him with developing Billawar, others not impressed

Avtar Bhat

Billawar: Billawar Assembly segment in Kathua district of Jammu region is mostly hilly area and a kandi belt. The area though has a lot of potential for tourism promotion, power generation, horticulture, apiculture and agriculture production, besides industrial growth has unfortunately remained a backward constituency as no proper attention was paid towards its development by successive State Governments. The area remained neglected almost in all spheres of life over the years with the result the problems of people like power cuts, water scarcity, lack of civic amenities, health care and schooling compounded day by day.
The constituency in last Assembly was represented by former Deputy Chief Minister and present Speaker of State Assembly, Dr Nirmal Singh. Earlier it was represented for three consecutive terms by Congress since 1996. Th. Balbir Singh of Congress represented it from 1996 to 2002 and later Dr Manohar Lal Sharma of the same party was elected for two terms successively from 2002 to 2014.
Though the Government and present MLA boasts of the three years performance in the constituency but a section of people in Billawar are not satisfied with his claims and they alleged that the MLA could not come to their expectations as many promises made during the campaign of 2014 elections remained confined to poll manifesto only and have not seen the light of the day.
However, there are some sections of people in the Billawar constituency who not only feel satisfied with the functioning of the present MLA and former Deputy CM, Dr Nirmal Singh but gave him full credit for overall development of the area. They said it would be an injustice if he is not given the credit for good works done by him during a short span of three years.
These people are of the opinion that the works executed during this period were quality wise much better especially the road work and earlier the macadamization was done on one day and next day it gets eroded after the traffic plies on the road or when there is a shower of rain it got washed away.
Uttam Chand of Ramkote in Billawar tehsil gave all credit for the good road network to the MLA. He said “we had never seen such roads earlier in this area and credit goes to the MLA for sanctioning of colleges at Ramkote and four lanning of road from Dayalachak to Udhampur which was a long pending demand of the people”.
But the response in other areas was altogether different. The people in Dingh Amb of Billawar have many grievances as they were facing acute shortage of water and power crisis. They said problems take critical turn in summer when water level depletes and mercury touches peak.
Des Raj of Dingh Amb said that power shutdown and water crisis especially in summer have worried the people and “we could not find any solution to this problem during last 70 years. Political parties in elections promised moon but on ground later their claims proved hollow, he added.
There is no doctor in hospital. The High School of Dingh Amb was sanctioned in 1962 and the students from adjoining villages like Dani Bakhtar , Mangloor were coming to Dingh Amb for studies in 9th and 10th class but today there are higher secondary schools in those areas while the Dingh Amb School was not upgraded, said Ishwar Singh, a villager.
In village Ghar near Dingh Amb a tube well was dug over a year back but motor was not installed so it is defunct and problem still persists, he added.
Ramesh Chander, another villager said our problems have compounded over the years as there is no road connectivity to villages of Kakda, Koli, Kopad, Blot, Garh Maleni and Sarah. The students have to travel kilometres by foot for schooling.
The villagers said the local nullahs create havoc during Monsoon rains as no bridges have been constructed over them. “The Monsoons haunt us from April as every year some people get drowned in these nullahs”, said Ishwar Singh.
There is a common complaint every where from the people in this constituency regarding non payment of dues for works constructed under MGNREGA in entire Billawar Constituency.
People have many grievances to narrate every where saying they had many expectations from the BJP which was the part of previous Government “but our hopes were dashed to ground.”
At Uprajolta Billawar and Moda Khenbali people were not paid money under MGNREGA works executed last year in Panchayat Rajalta. Besides, poles have been erected at a distance of over 100 metres with the result they get snapped during storm and people face complete blackout for many days, said Gudi Ram of Up Rajolta. The local road is in shambles and there are no medicines in Up Rajolta dispensary, he added.
The inhabitants of the area alleged that the people belonging to APL families were given BPL cards while those who actually fall in BPL category were ignored. Babu Ram a local said a shed was sanctioned in the area but money not released later.
In Ghalak Panchayat people said that payments under MGNREGA were not released for last two years.
The Ghalak HighSchool was sanctioned in 1971 but not upgraded till date. There is Ayurvedic Dispensary in the area but without medicines. “Our demand for sanctioning of five bedded Allopathic Hospital is still pending”, said Parkash a local resident.
Water supply scheme in the area was constructed in 1985 and was not upgraded yet despite tremendous increase in the population of the area, he added.
Parkash further said that a dug well was constructed in a low lying area in the village but later work abandoned on the pretext that there is no water under ground and the water crisis continue to persist in the area.
Puran Chand Gupta another resident of the area said that people have to drink water supplied through rusted pipes laid decades back.` `See condition of this Ghalak market which is totally in shambles despite the fact it existed before 1947”, he added.
However, people in Ramkote expressed altogether different views saying that for the first time they had seen some public representative really working for common masses by not giving preference to ‘Chamchas’ (sycophants). Tulsi Dass, an ex-Serviceman showed total solidarity with ex MLA and said college was sanctioned by him for Ramkot and this way demand of this area was solved otherwise students had to face many problems in visiting Billawar or Kathua. “You can yourself see how good roads have been constructed. This was not before”, he added.
But Akbar Ali of Ward Kodi Thail in Ramkoe said that their Ward has been ignored in development.
Manohar Lal of Basantar Pull has no major grievances against ex MLA and showed his satisfaction with his performance. “Many works have been started in the area and some have already been completed while others are in pipeline”, he added.
The villagers of Thail Ramkote, however, said the water supply scheme sanctioned by previous regime for the area was abandoned by this Government.
In Nagrota Gujra some people were wary of MLA and said that he ignored the area as well as the people. Mohinder Kumar and Atul Gupta, local businessmen said that though they are associated with BJP for decades together but feel cheated now as the MLA failed to redress the grievances of the people.
Village Gortha near Sukrala Mata faced acute scarcity of water and people have to spend one hour to get a bucket of water from a natural source, said Kewal Kumar a local resident. The road in the area is also Kacchha, he added.
Village Bagan Ladrai Mohra a hilly area has no road connectivity though construction of road has been started it will take lot of time for completion, said NanakChand. Besides, they face water scarcity while the road to Machedi is in worst condition, he added.
Moreover, there is no hospital from Billawar to this area except one dispensary at far off place Cut, he said. The people of area face transport problem too.
As water scarcity is almost a problem every where in higher reaches of Billawar, the Behna Bej Moda and Janota Billawar are no exception and people of these villages have to fetch water from one km distance.
The people in these villages also faced power crisis in summer. They said this problem has not been paid attention by any one including ex-MLA.
However, Sunny Kashyap of Billawar, a photographer has all praises for MLA saying the roads are good now in the area and “this development we have seen for the first time”.
“The people who level charges against ex-MLA must understand that roads are basis for development, he said, adding the ex-MLA gave Mini Stadium in Billawar and various link roads are also under construction.
The Sukrala Mata road is being widened which can play a significant role in development of the area, he said.
Ajay Gupta of Billawar also gave credit to MLA for constructing a good network of roads, but chides over the power crisis.
At Dharamkot, Billawar people also showed their satisfaction with MLA’s performance. Mohit Sharma of Billwar said that constituency is on the path of development but rued over the abandoning of work on road near Forest Office.
Vivesh Kumar of Billawar said the road work in the entire constituency is quality wise good.
Maksood Ali of Berial Billawar said that the link road and bridge in the area has not been constructed and the 300 people of village are perturbed as Monsoon rains haunt them when there is flood in the nullah and crossing it that time is giving an invitation to death. In Pallan Billawar, the people also had the same complaints. However, Vijay Gupta of Billawar had all praise for the ex-MLA saying that previous legislators were giving preference to workers and listening to them but present one has altogether different style of functioning as he gives preference to public.
However, Dr Nirmal Singh, who represented the constituency in the dissolved Assembly said that power crisis have been solved to maximum level in the constituency. He said there is no place left now where the poles are to be erected.
Giving details, he said over Rs 613 crore were spent for various developmental works in the constituency during last three years and there is zero balance in his CDF.
He said the height of Ujh Barrage was reduced by four meters with the result large number of villages of the area were saved from submergence in the water and displacement.
He said moreover compensation for rehabilitation policy of dam oustees was sanctioned at par with Kishen Ganga Project which is a big achievement.
Sixty Administrative meetings were held in the constituency with departmental officers for on the spot settlement of people’s problems and a campaign was launched for issuance of PRCs on the spot and for this purpose 28 camps were held in Constituency and 8000 PRCs were issued. Moreover 35,000 people were registered under Ayushman Bharat in his constituency alone, claimed Dr Singh.
Under PMGSY notifications were issued under Section 4 and in 37 villages Rs 70 crore benefits were given to people whose land came under the roads. Moreover under Ladli Beti scheme 400 families were benefitted while on Baisakhi mela girl child birthday celebrations were started.
He said creation of 60 New Transformers in Billawar constituency were sanctioned while creation and augmentations of 27 new transformers in Billawar constituency at an amount (aprox. 51.59 Lakh) has been sanctioned.
He said at Kadetar a new Receiving Station is under process to be constructed at an amount of Rs 84 lakh.
Besides, one crore special package for improvements of LT/HT was sanctioned. The work is in progress on Receiving Station at Sanged Mandli to be constructed at an amount of Rs 170 lakh. More than Rs 1.5 crores were sanctioned under T&D scheme for the Improvement / LT extensions in Billawar constituency. He said that about Rs 90 crore were spent alone in power sector in Billawar constituency including sanctioning of over Rs 1.5 crore under T&D scheme, , one crore special package for improvement of LT/HT, creation of 60 New Transformers in Billawar constituency, augmentation of 27 new transformers in Billawr Constituency at an approximately cost of Rs 51.59 lakh, Workshop for repairing of transformer at Billawar of amount Rs 1.60 crore (Work under process). Power Grid of 2×50 MVA at Rampur at an amount of Rs 78 crore. (proposed under PMDP) Augmentation of Transformer from 5 MVA to 10 MVA of amount Rs 72.48 lakh at Phinter, Augmentation of Transformer from 3.5 MVA to 5 MVA of amount 49.24 lakh at Gurahkalyal. He said Rs 239 crores have been sanctioned for roads and Rs 54.5 crores for Bridges in the constituency while 22 new PMGSY roads of Rs 102 crore works are under process on ground, he added.
In PHE Department, new additional machinery for different stations of approximately Rs 20 crore has been sanctioned. New tubewell drilled in Billawar,Ujhpull and Sukrala and 80 new handpumps drilled at Billawar constituency till date besides over Rs 10 crore released in Education Department for new building, additional classrooms, boundary walls etc.