LOLAB: The picturesque Lolab constituency in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district has its inhabitants fuming against the former legislator for not fulfilling their basic demands of providing drinking water, macadamised roads, proper electricity, lack of better infrastructure and healthcare.
The Assembly constituency of Lolab belongs to Baramulla Parliamentary constituency. In 2014 Assembly elections, Abdul Haq Khan of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was elected for second time by defeating Qaiser Jamsheed Lone of National Conference (NC) by a margin of 2870 votes. Khan polled 29408 votes and Lone 26538.
The inhabitants of the constituency said that the condition of all the roads is pathetic, which have not been repaired. They said the main roads as well as inner roads of villages are in dilapidated condition and full of potholes.
The residents said that the main road from Kupwara to Lolab is in bad shape and commuters are facing immense hardships while travelling.
They said most of the link roads in the villages including Warnav, Sogam, Divar and Lalpora are dilapidated and the roads crave for metalling and macadamization. All the villages have shabby inner roads, rough lanes and by-lanes.
Residents of Divar village alleged that although the roads in the area were macadamized but due to Sub-standard material used, the roads got damaged.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that some villages like Muqam, Hayatpora, Dardpora, Tandoosa and other adjoining villages are facing shortage of drinking water. “In absence of water supply, we are forced to walk miles to fetch water from a small stream and springs. We are forced to consume contaminated water from open water sources that often results in breakdown of deadly diseases,” Muhammad Altaf Khan, a resident said.
He said water supply schemes in the constituency are either lying defunct or supplying water to the influential persons only while rest of the inhabitants are deprived from this basic necessity. “There are still some villages where no water pipes were laid and they are completely dependent on open sources of water,” he added.
Other villages like Lalpora, Lassipora, Doniwara, Ganaiepora and Chuntiwadi also complained of impure drinking water.
The residents said that several tanks were constructed for the storage of water but there are no output channels for them and the tanks are lying defunct. “The storage tanks were constructed and some are under construction for the purpose of storing water and then providing it for irrigation purposes but unfortunately the output channels were not constructed. The projects are in limbo and the concerned authorities are well aware of the issue. Even the pipes for the tanks have developed cracks now,” they said.
The inhabitants of the constituency complained that they are facing electricity issues as the electricity often plays hide and seek. The remote villages of Lolab including Lalpora, Darpora, Dharamwari, Krusan and many other areas said that they are facing acute power shortage.
They complained that power often plays hide and seek and the un-scheduled power cuts have become order of the day. “Students are the worst sufferers. We are paying electricity dues in time and yet are reeling under darkness. Even fully metered areas are facing worst problem crisis. When the PDD installed meters in our areas we wear assured to get power supply round the clock but there promises proved to be a hoax,” Muhammad Yaseen, a resident said.
The residents of Tilwanpora area said that they are facing immense hardships as a single transformer is available that is not sufficient to provide electricity to whole village. “The second transformer was installed in the village last year in November but is not functional yet.
The inhabitants also said that the electric poles and wires were never replaced in most of the villages and the wires are either tied to trees or decades old wooden electric poles.
Although various villages were electrified but the residents of far flung areas like Batnar, Doban, Chakla, Sharant, Gratnar and Taryan complained that they are still deprived of electricity.
They alleged that few years ago Power Department installed transformers, poles and wires in these villages but the villages were not connected with the supply lines.
The residents of the constituency also complained that the poor network connectivity is irking the people as the leading network agencies including Airtel, Idea, Vodafone and even Jio have failed to provide good network system to the people of area.
Several villagers complained that they are facing acute transport problem and they have to travel in jam packed busses. The students in Lalpora, Sogam, Krusan, Darpora , Dharamwari and other villages said that they are facing hardships as they have to travel in jam packed buses.
When it comes to the health care sector, the inhabitants said that hospitals and the small health centres are without proper facilities and has shortage of doctors as well as other staff.
The residents said that in the Sub-District Hospital (SDH) at Sogam, there is shortage of staff and patients are often being referred to other hospitals. “The hospital has only the two gynecologists and they attend the hospital for just two days in a week. Whenever a woman develops pregnancy related complicacies, her attendants are compelled to shift her to the district hospital, where she is again referred to the hospitals of other areas”, they said.
The residents of Mushkjall area of Warnow, also demanded improvement of road which is in dilapidated conditions for years.
Besides, they said the area has also been neglected by the Power Development Department as electricity remains disconnected for maximum period of the days in the village.
The residents of remote Kuligamand Chogal village complained also about shortage of potable water. They said they are forced to consume contaminated water from open water sources.
The inhabitants also complained that the schools in the constituency are without basic facilities like classrooms, toilets and libraries. They said the schools in remote areas are in pathetic condition as they lack proper infrastructure like classrooms, matting, electricity and playgrounds.
Residents of Lalpora area said that there is a playground in the area that is adjacent to a Police Station and that was to be relocated but despite land being identified for the playground in other area work on it was never started.
The former MLA of the constituency, Abdul Haq Khan said that despite various problems during the tenure of the previous Government like unrest of 2016 and less time, he has been able to develop the constituency in a big way. “I am completely satisfied that I did my best to develop the constituency,” he said.
Khan said the road network has increased and almost every village of the constituency is connected include far flung areas of Haihama, Klaroos, Machil, Wawoora and Sogam. “There was no road connectivity but we have connectivity right up to the last village of the constituency now. 80 percent of the roads were macadamized, this includes main roads as well as inner link roads,” he said.
“One of the biggest developments we did was construction of the by-pass road for Lolab as in past the road towards Lolab used to remain closed during late hours because of the Army camp. We made a by-pass road and people now don’t have to go through the Army camp,” he said.
Khan said in electricity sector, 95 percent of electricity related issues have been addressed. “Various receiving stations were up-graded. A special line from the grid station is being taken to the Lolab, work on it is going and it will be completed this year. Transformers were provided wherever it was needed. About 95 percent of the areas were provided new transformers. There are still some un-electrified areas in border areas but funds for them have already been released and they will be electrified this year. HT/LT lines were improved through several schemes,” he said.
The former MLA said that the status of model village was given to several villages and things will be improved there. “Some villages were given Rurban (Rural + Urban) status and they will avail facilities of urban areas,” he said.
To address irrigation related issues, Khan said four big dams were constructed costing around Rs 20 crores and several nallahs were di-silted so that the areas adjacent to it will be saved from floods and will also act as tourist destination.
Khan said to boost tourism activities in the constituency, tourism related infrastructure was developed in various areas like Chandigam, Chanderbugh and Kalaroos. Guest houses were constructed so that tourists can stay and enjoy the scenic beauty of Lolab.
When it comes to the water facilities, he said 80 percent of the areas were without water supply and to address the issues, Ground water and other resources were utilized and almost all the areas have better water supply now.
He further said that several developmental projects are on pipeline and if elected again more things will be improved in the constituency.