The fresh snowfall in Kashmir and parts of Doda and Kishtwar has again made lives of people miserable. Even after a week many village roads and link roads are closed. Authorities as usual have failed to restore roads in rural areas. It was heart wrenching to read a news report about death of a pregnant lady in Surasyar Budgam who could not be taken to hospital due to closure of Surasyar – Chadoora road during snowfall. Daily Excelsior carried an article recently wherein columnist Dr Raja Muzaffar had suggested to use NREGA funds for snow clearance in rural areas. This is a very wise suggestion and Government must not waste any time to go ahead with this programme. In winters youth in villages are jobless and snow clearance work will not only give livelihood to thousands of people but this will ensure no roads get closed due to snowfall. Chief Secretary and Secretary Rural Development must look into this great suggestion.
In case NREGA funds are made available for snow clearance, it will indeed, be a wise step on part of the Government.
It may not be out of context to say here that usually rural areas in Jammu and Kashmir receive least priority when it comes to providing basic necessities of life to people living there or carrying out relief work during natural or man made calamities. Even an electric damaged transformer takes weeks, and in some cases months, to get replaced by a new one. Such is the condition of rural people.
The snow clearance in villages can be tackled easily in case Government entrusts this job to Panchayats and allocates funds for the same. Two things can happen at the same time. One, temporary jobs can be created for rural jobless people. Second, communication link will also get restored easily.
Therefore, the suggestion by the author is worth consideration and acted upon.