PDP’s bastion since 2002, Rajpora remains badly neglected

Suhail Bhat
RAJPORA: In the 2014 Assembly elections, the residents of Rajpora constituency brought People’s Democratic Party (PDP) back to power by voting overwhelmingly in favor of its candidate, Dr Haseeb Drabu, hoping to change their fortunes. Four years later, the constituency remains neglected on the developmental front.
Rajpora has been one of the strong bastions with the PDP and the party has won this seat since 2002. In 2014, PDP fielded Dr Haseeb Drabu from the Assembly segment, who defeated NC candidate Ghulam Mohiuddin Mir by a majority of 4,273 votes. He got 18103 votes, while 1383 votes were polled by the runner-up.
The constituency is facing multiple problems including broken roads, shabby or missing sewerage, insufficient portable water and an absence of adequate health and educational facilities. Residents in several localities also complained about lack of connectivity to their areas.
At one of the biggest villages of the constituency, Murran, residents lamented lack of development in the village despite being identified as “Model Village” in 2002. They said the village has nothing to boast about on development front, “the roads are dilapidated, drainage is missing and street lights are defunct. There is nothing which can justify its title,” Waseem Ahmad, a resident said, the village has been the victim of political apathy.
A few kilometers away at Rohmoo village, people expressed strong resentment against the former MLA who allegedly failed to address their problems. The residents said that the village continued to grapple with basic amenities like macadamized roads, portable water and most importantly a bridge that connects about 14 villages including Rohmoo with Pulwama town. The bridge was washed away in 2014 floods and authorities has failed to complete it, causing problems in commuting for thousands of people in the area.
The bridges besides connecting dozens of villages to each other form a vital inter-district link that connects Pulwama district with Budgam via Charar-e-Sharif and Pakherpora. “We have been traveling on dangerous makeshift road which can be washed away by the gushing waters anytime,” Manzoor Ahmad said, adding that they approached the former MLA with this issue several times but to no avail.
Another village, Bellow, which was also included in the list of ‘Model Villages’ in 2002 lacks the facilities. “Our village has not received any attention for lasts several years. On developmental front we stand nowhere,” Zahid Ahmad a resident said.
In villages like Mirgund, Zagigam, Kachipora, Drubgam, Tujan, Qamrazpora, Nikas, Haal, Tahab, Nayer, Neloora and Tengpona residents narrated similar stories of lack of portable water, electricity outages, shabby lanes and bylanes.
Healthcare facilities in the constituency have not improved over the years, with primary health centers lacking staff or infrastructure. For example, at Drabgam village, the building of a primary health centre has been abandoned by the Health Department despite completing the construction work nine years ago. In absence of the infrastructure, the residents of more than 10 villages are facing problems. “The failure to shift the hospital to the new building has left it useless. Public money has also been wasted,” Ishafaq Ahmad, a resident of the village said. He said that the issues were raised with the former local MLA but nothing improved.
Far off hilly villages like Abhama, Achgoza, and Sangerwani although have a narrow, macadamized road from Rajpora, yet the inner link roads are in bad shape. Lanes, bylanes in the three remote villages are completely dilapidated and have never been concretized. This hilly areas of the constituency which has a population of about 20, 000 faces a major crisis in the health sector.
The area has a single Primary Health Center in Sangarwani and an allopathic dispensary in Abhama. But these exist as health centers in name only and have no facilities available.
The dispensary in Abhama village is functioning from a damaged, rented building and shockingly it has been renamed it as ‘New Type Primary Health Centre’. “It has no doctor, no nurse; only a pharmacist and two health workers are posted there. The pharmacist is very irregular and comes a few days in a month that too for a few hours in a day. The PHC Sangarwani village has a similar story”, they said.
In the main town of Rajpora, shopkeepers complained of the lack of drainage facilities in the town, street lights and electricity. “Water supply line that passes through the town is damaged and the leaked water submerges the whole market,” said Rouf Ahmad, a resident.
The members of Industrial Unit Holders Association at Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) Lassipora said the land grabbers have been illegally occupying the land for years and the authorities are acting as mute spectators. “The land grabbers start with possessing a small portion of land but now the large portion have been taken up,” a unit holder said, adding they were initially told that the land under possession was uncompensated and the owners have occupied it some years back.
Lassipora Industrial Estate, one of the thriving zones in South Kashmir, has become the hub of land grabbers who have encroached nearly 1500 kanals of land.
In the year 1992, State Government dedicated a sprawling 6000 kanals of land at Lassipora to State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) to promote sustainable economic growth and to generate employment. SIDCO leased space to various manufacturing units, but land grabbers have encroached a major portion of this land, causing worry among the industrialists.
Complaining about a nearby Gujjar Basti, the unit holder said that the neighbourhood which squats illegally has grown exponentially since the last half a decade or so.
A few meters away from the main market of Pulwama lies the Hawl transit camp which is meant for the Kashmiri Pandit (KP) employees living in the area. The huts are in dilapidated conditions. “These huts are poorly made. It is poor infrastructure. When we came here, we came with the hope that we will be living in good surroundings and good infrastructure. But we have been befooled. They wanted us to return and on the other hand, they did not give us good infrastructure and security. We are living in fear and intimidation each day”, a Pandit employee said.
Nearly 65 dilapidated pre-fabricated huts house more than 110 migrant Kashmiri Pandits, but the huts are damaged. “There is no seriousness to look into our issues”, he said.
The former MLA was contacted several times for comment on the issues raised by the residents of the constituency but he could not respond.