Over 60 villages face water scarcity in South Kashmir

4 major Water Supply Schemes incomplete

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, Dec 15: Nearly 60 villages are facing water scarcity as four major water supply schemes remain a non-starter in Bijbihara division in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, despite passing of 7 years since the work started.
With an aim to provide sufficient drinking water the government announced construction of four major Water Supply Schemes at Watnar, Tantraypora, Sachnipora and Shangus areas of the division in 2012. The schemes were taken up with an estimated costs ranging from Rs 20-28 crores but are far from completion despite the lapse of seven years.
An official at the PHE department told Excelsior that the projects received meagre funding from the government, causing a delay in their completion. “Lack of funds dented the projects. For last five years they have received a small amount of funding from the government causing a further delay,” he said.
The projects received a setback when government announced a new categorization for such schemes. Under the new arrangement the schemes with more than 25 percent expenditure would be funded by Central Government while as the schemes having less expenditure were put under State budget.
“It affected all the schemes as they fall under second category,” another official, who is aware of the developments, said. He, however, claimed that the government has not laid down any frame work for them after reorganization of the Jammu and Kashmir in October this year.
Amid all this, the locals allege that they are forced to fetch water from the streams which is impure and unfit for consumption. “People here have to collect untreated water from local streams and that is putting the locals vulnerable to water borne diseases,” Gulzar Ahmad, a local from Tantraypora said.
The locals rue that the schemes are incomplete despite the fact that several water borne diseases are reported from the south Kashmir. “This shows the seriousness of the Government towards the issue”, Aijaz another local said. He added that the water level recedes in majority of the streams in winters thereby aggravating the crisis further.
Chief Engineer Public Health Engineering Department, Abdul Waheed, told Excelsior the schemes are getting adequate funds and would be completed in next two years. “Big projects like these take time to get completed. They have to be constructed in a phase wise manner,” he said.