Pampore people feel let down by Zahoor Mir

Suhail Bhat
Pampore: Residents of Pampore town of the constituency felt that they have been left out on the development while as the rural population said they have better road connectivity but continue to battle for civic amenities.
Pampore constituency, a few kilometers Southeast of Srinagar, which has about 80 villages and 80,000 voters has been represented by former PDP MLA Zahoor Ahmad Mir since 2003. He was elected after his father, then sitting MLA Abdul Aziz Mir, was assassinated in 2002.
The constituency is famous for its saffron and the saffron economy has made its residents and business to thrive. However, the saffron growers said that the former MLA has done nothing to boost this trade. The saffron growers alleged that he has failed to get ambitious saffron mission project implemented due the absence of which there has been decline in crop production. Lack of proper environmental audit of the cement factories, they said, has deteriorated the health and environment of the area and the former MLA has been silent over it.
In almost all the areas, the educated youth feel dejected due to lack of jobs and said they were promised jobs by the former MLA during his campaigning but to no avail. Others said that the former MLA has brought the rural areas on the map of development and has increased the road connectivity.
Ghulam Rasool, a local from the Pampore Town, said that since the main trade of the town and adjoining areas is saffron, their demand was to organize buyers- sellers meet to promote the spice in the world market. “Our legislator didn’t do anything regarding this. The saffron park was allotted to Pampore. But for his vote bank, the former MLA shifted it to his own area situated to an odd place and it has not served any purpose,” he said.
“The former MLA did nothing to put a check on the illegal construction on the saffron land thereby reducing its land cover and he even didn’t stop Government buildings for coming up on the saffron land- DIET complex Pulwama, Degree College Pampore and Spice Park”, he added.
The saffron growers said that lack of irrigation facilities resulted in the drastic decline in crop production. In order to tackle irrigation issues, a sprinkle based irrigation system under the Centrally Sponsored Saffron Mission has been launched but the scheme is nowhere near completion. “This year we received only 5% of the crop due to lack of irrigation facilities. For last eight years, the Government has failed to make a single irrigation pump functional and that has resulted in the decline of crop.” They said that the local former MLA didn’t come to their rescue.
Residents from the Pampore Town, which is main part of the constituency, lamented that the town has been neglected and marred by lack of clean drinking water, electricity shortage, poor drainage, defunct street lights and untidy roads and streets.
The sports enthusiast of the town showed strong resentment against former MLA’s failure to get sports infrastructure developed. “The two stadia that cater to the whole constituency are in bad shape. Although earth filling was done at Sports stadium Kadlabal but work has been left midway. The Iqbal Stadium also needs fencing and earth filing,” Abid Ahmad, a sportsman said, adding they repeatedly raised the issue with the former MLA but to no avail.
The locals said in 2010 that the renovation of both the stadia was announced and inauguration stone was, subsequently, laid by then sports Minister R S Chib, Ghulam Nabi Rattanpuri and then MLA Zahoor Ahamd Mir, but the promises were never fulfilled. A footballer said the authorities took away a major portion of the ground and distributed it among various departments. The locals were fooled that the remaining part of the ground would be converted into a state of the art sports stadium which never happened.
The residents also lament that the roadsides and Jhelum banks are littered with unattended heaps of garbage and alleged that the municipal committee refuse to pay any heed towards the issue. “We raised the issue with the former MLA but nothing changed,” Nazir Ahmad, a local said.
At Kakapoora, people feel ignored and alleged that for last one decade the former MLA has not carried any developmental work in their area. “The roads that connect us to the rest of the Valley are dilapidated, healthcare facilities are inadequate and irrigation facilities are not adequate. We have to pool money to maintain our roads. Majority of the people here are associated with agriculture and we didn’t have proper irrigation facilities as the irrigation pump has not been upgraded for last several years,” Noor Mohammad, 50, a resident of Kakapora said, adding there is also a dearth of clean drinking water.
Although the constituency has better road network but roads like Lehhaar- Mohvi, Hatwara- Sambora, and Khrew- Bathen are in deplorable condition.
The Degree College Pampore that was established in 2010 lacked laboratory facilities and students said they either have to visits Degree College Pulwama or Amar Singh College Srinagar for their practical assignments. “It’s impossible for us to visit other Colleges for every practical assignment as it is very time-consuming. They shouldn’t have opened the college if facilities were not here. We raised the issue with the former MLA but nothing was done,” Asif Ahmad Khan, a local said.
In absence of commerce stream at Boys Higher Secondary Pampore students have to take admissions in either Srinagar or Pulwama schools. “Despite being one of the oldest schools in the district, commerce stream is not here”, Mohammad Amir, a student said. Other schools like Primary School Shar and Alamdar Primary Lamdar Colony Shar, of the constituency, are also facing the space constraints.
The healthcare is taking a hit with poor tertiary care as a majority of the health centers are marred by lack of staff and infrastructure.
At the Sub District Hospital Pampore, which is the nodal centre for treatment, lack of outpatient department affects the delivery of health services. “In absence of OPD we are forced to see patients inside the hospital. It affects the inpatient services, authorities should look into it,” a doctor at SDH Pampore said.
Almost, all the health Centres of the constituency are understaffed and have poor infrastructure. The residents of Gulzarpora village in Awantipora township said that the Primary Health Centre in their area lacks staff and facilities. “There is no USG, ECG and digital X-ray facility in the hospital,” Mohammad Sidiq, a local said, adding nearly 21 villages depend on the health centre for healthcare.
“The former MLA made promises about better healthcare during his campaigning for 2014 elections but could not improve the same”, residents alleged.
People at Khrew and adjoining areas said that the unabated emission of toxic fumes from the Cement factories has put the residents vulnerable to life-threatening diseases. They said these factories have turned the area into a dust bowl, posing a danger to the survival of flora and fauna and deteriorating the quality of human life. “We raised the issue time and again with the former MLA but the cement lobby seems to be powerful as nothing changed,” Ghulam Mohammad a local said.
The locals also complained that no attention to the lone wetland of the area and land mafia has not only filled a major portion of it but also raised residential colonies on it. “Several avian visitors used to throng the place but wanton construction has shrunk its size. The former MLA failed to get it conserved,” a local said.
Locals of several areas including Mohanvij, Rishipora, and Larkipora complained about the erratic electricity and insufficient drinking water. Residents of Androosa and Gundbal said that they are facing acute water shortage for last six years owing to failure of Public Health and Engineering Department to complete the construction work of a water supply scheme in the area.
The residents of the area lamented that the repeated assurances by the former MLA have proved hollow and forced residents to dig high-cost tube-wells to mitigate the shortage. “Everyone cannot afford to dig the tube wells as they are expensive. Out of 200 households, only 15 have their tube wells in the region. Others are awaiting the completion of the water supply scheme,” Nazir Ahmad, a local said.
Former Member of Legislative Assembly ( MLA) Pampore listed a series of projects that, he said, he managed to get for his constituency. “100 bedded sub-district Hospital Pampore, Degree College Pampore, Tangnar water supply scheme, ITI Pampore and over 90% macadamization of roads was done during last few years”, he said.
Asked about the failure to implement the saffron mission, Mir said, the sprinkle based irrigation system was not completed because of the callous attitude of the Mechanical and Engineering Department.
He admitted that some important roads like Lelhar- Mohnvij, Hatwara- Samboora and Khrew Bathen were not macadamised.
He further said that he had raised the issue regarding the lack of the OPD but there was no space available for the block.
Asked about the allegation of the people from Pampore and Kakapora town, Mir said: “They never approached me for any sort of grievances. People came for their individual benefits only.”