Pattan: Victim of official apathy

Waseem Ahmad
PATTAN: Pattan constituency in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district is the victim of official apathy as it lacks basic amenities including proper healthcare, portable water, electricity, education, irrigation and road connectivity.
The assembly constituency of Pattan is part of Baramulla parliamentary constituency. In 2014 assembly elections, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Imran Raza Ansari defeated Aga Syed Mehmood Al Mosavi of National Conference (NC) by a huge margin of 9334 votes. Ansari polled 21,218 votes and Mosavi 11,884 votes.
The inhabitants of the constituency said that they have been discriminated by the successive Go-vernments on every front and sectors like roads, drinking water, health care, education and irrigation have been neglected by the Government.
The residents said most of the projects including development of National Highway which bisects Pattan town into two parts, construction of much needed Trauma Hospital, development of SDH Pattan, irrigation for agricultural land, improvement in education sector and health care were not taken up seriously.
One of the major issues that the residents of the constituency complained about is the controversy in the construction of much hyped Trauma Hospital Pattan.
The construction of the hospital began in 2003 and it took authorities 15 long years to complete it. The construction of the hospital was aimed at saving the lives of accident victims on the highway and was thrown open last year but the residents claim that people of North Kashmir have been cheated after naming the trauma facility to Sub-District hospital (SDH). “There are no trauma facilities. It has been converted into Sub-District Hospital which is unfortunate. The Government has cheated us. The trauma facility was aimed to tackle emergencies that take place on Srinagar-Muzzafarabad highway prone to road accidents. The lack of trauma facilities in entire North Kashmir is putting lives of persons suffering from traumatic injuries at grave risk but we have been cheated by Government. No trauma services are provided in the hospital,” the residents said.
They also maintained that SDH Pattan is in shambles as it has not been upgraded. “Despite knowing that digital X-ray facility is not available in the hospital, doctors recommend digital X-rays to the patients, thus, literally leaving patients at the mercy of private clinics that have mushroomed in the town. Besides, there is a dearth of doctors in the hospital. Most of the times, allopathic doctors see patients in the OPD ward,” they said.
The residents said almost all the health centers in the constituency are either without staff including doctors and paramedics or lack proper infrastructure and medicines. Residents of the area said that they raised these issues with the former MLA but to no avail.
The inhabitants of main town Pattan said that Municipal Committee of the town is defunct. “Municipal Committee has failed to construct a public toilet and drains in the town. Garbage is hardly lifted from the streets. They do not have machinery. Lanes and by-lanes are in dilapidated condition. Illegal construction, encroachment of roads at many places have been carried out by some influential people in nexus with Municipality,” they alleged.
The residents said that the area reels under darkness most of the times due to frequent and unscheduled power cuts. “Electric poles and wires at many places are not repaired for decades posing threat to lives in many villages and at places wires are tied to trees,” they said.
The residents and traders of Pattan are decrying the frequent jams in the town and blame the authorities for failing to initiate the road widening project, repair the footpaths and link roads. “Congestion in Pattan market is taking a heavy toll on the lives of commuters. Frequent traffic jams have made the lives of people hell,” they said.
Altaf Ahmad, a trader said, everybody, including the transporters, commuters and traders are affected by the continuous traffic jams in the town. “The market is mainly spread over a kilometre stretch on the highway from Degree College to Trauma Hospital. Authorities started road widening and footpath repair work on the stretch, but left the work midway. Now they have picked up the work again, but due to bad weather it had created a muddy mess, making the traffic jams chronic, besides making it difficult for pedestrians,” he said.
Locals said that commuters, which include students, patients, employees and shopkeepers, were facing tremendous problems due to the frequent traffic jams. “Everything like college, tuition centres, SDH Pattan, SDM office, Tehsil office and Trauma Hospital are located in this one kilometre stretch,” they said.
The residents of various villages complained that they are facing water scarcity. “Taps remain dry almost 22 hours a day despite the main source of tap water being near Tangmarg, few kilometers away. Most of the villagers have to use the polluted waters of nearby streams or nallahs and this has led to outbreak of deadly diseases,” they said.
The residents also said that there is only one fire and emergency service vehicle available in whole constituency that has been provided in 1990s and despite increase in the population, no more fire service vehicles were provided.
The farmers of the constituency said they lack proper irrigation facilities and majority of the farmers have shifted from paddy farming to apple orchards.
“The construction of irrigation canal in the area for supplying water to farmland has been the long pending demand of farmers. More than 50 villages in the constituency would have been benefitted by the canal”, residents said.
Farmers said a large portion of agriculture land falls in hilly areas and the farmers have to rely on rainfall and in case it fails the crops are worst hit in absence of proper irrigation facility.
Some of the farmers alleged that the Railway tunnels near Pattan have become a source of inconvenience for them as the tunnels are full of water and mud. “When the track was being laid, the Railways had promised to construct several underpasses / tunnels to the make the fields accessible to farmers. However, since 2008 the Railways and R&B has failed to clear the tunnels of mud and water. All the tunnels are full of water and mud, with the result we are forced to cross the railway tracks to go to their fields,” a farmer said.
The inhabitants of the constituency alleged that the ill-planned execution of various schemes have not benefited them. However, it has only benefitted close friends and relatives of political party members.
The residents of Dargam village of Pattan said they lack a bridge on a local stream. “There is a local stream called as Gundari Nalla and from the past several decades the people are facing hardships due to the absence of a bridge on the Nalla,” they said.
The residents also said that they were promised upgradation of roads but nothing happened. “We are forced to shift patients on shoulders to health center Nihalpora which is three kilometres away from the village due to bad condition of road. We have no direct road to reach Tehsil headquarter Pattan and we have to cross several villages that too most of the time on foot. The drivers are reluctant to ply on the road due to its bad condition,” they said.
The residents of Check Jamal Mir said: “This village lacks basic facilities including proper road connectivity, water, electricity and health care facilities. Lack of basic facilities is taking a heavy toll on the lives of people living in this area,” they said.
The residents of Model Town Palhalan said that only the main gate was erected on the roadside of the village, but nothing changed inside the village and other dozens of neighboring villages.
The deteriorated condition of the main road connecting Palhallan model village with Srinagar-Baramulla highway is creating problems both for the commuters and pedestrians as the road was macadamized by the authorities 10 long years back and till date neither the road has been repaired nor macadamized.
The residents said that despite being a ‘model village’, the condition of main road and link roads of Palhallan provides a clear picture of official apathy. Similarly, residents of Yattipora ward of Palhallan said that the deteriorated condition of roads and water logging on the roads isn’t only creating problems for the commuters but for the school children also.
“The roads and inner links of Palhallan were macadamised before the year 2010, a decade have passed but the district administration and R&B Department has ignored this area completely on a developmental front. “Palhallan is a ‘model village’ but the model tag hasn’t brought even a proper macadamized road to the area so far, how can we expect to avail all those facilities meant for a model village,” Mohammad Asif, a resident said, adding, “the officials were notified about the public grievances several times but till date nothing has been done.”
The residents also complained that the education sector of the constituency has also not been developed as various schools in the villages are facing problems including dearth of staff, proper infrastructure and are in dire need of up-gradation. “A Girls High School in Pattan was upgraded to Higher Secondary but the up-gradation is only on papers. The order was never implemented and the condition of the school is same as it was,” Saqib Ahmad, a student said.
He also said that the Degree College Pattan is facing dearth of space and some classes are being held in makeshift sheds “The irony is that classes in a Degree College are being held in sheds. Besides, 29 kanals of land were acquired by the college authorities adjacent to the college but till date the land has not been taken into the custody,” he said.
The residents of Mirgund area alleged that the area lacks development as compared to the other area that belongs to a particular community. “The Mirgund village is situated on two sides of the National highway and each side belongs to different community. There is a vast difference in terms of development in the two areas. Our area has been totally neglected because the MLA belongs to the other community. The condition of the roads in our area is pathetic, besides, the area lacks proper drinking water, health care facilities, frequent power cuts etc.,” Abdul Jabbar, a resident said.
Despite repeated calls to ex-MLA of the Constituency, Imran Raza Ansari by this reporter, he was not available for the comments.