Road connectivity major issue in Gurez

Ex-MLAs’ Report Card, Constituency: Gurez – Nazir Ahmad Khan (NC)

Waseem Ahmad
GUREZ: Although infrastructure of the Gurez constituency has seen improvement over the years but the inhabitants are still facing series of issues particularly the road connectivity.
Nazir Ahmad Khan of National Conference won the 2014 Assembly elections for the third consecutive time from Gurez. He defeated Faqir Mohammad Khan of Indian National Congress (INC). Nazir Ahmad Khan polled 6664 votes as against INC candidate who got 6523.
Located some 123 kilometers north of Srinagar, Gurez valley remains snow bound for nearly six months. Due to heavy snowfall, the area remained cut off from the rest of Valley as it is connected with the only 85 km-long road link from North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
One of the worst problems faced by the inhabitants of the constituency is the road connectivity as the residents said due to heavy snowfall, Gurez remained cut off from the rest of world for nearly six months and the snowfall damages the road surfaces that make it extremely tough for commuters to travel.
They said that Bandipora-Gurez road which connects the constituency with rest of the world is in pathetic condition due to which they have to face immense hardships. “Authorities have failed to undertake any up-gradation on the road. Every day our two- three hours are wasted due to the deplorable condition of the road,” Mohammad Hussain, a Gurez resident, said.
He alleged that local administration and Border Roads Organization are overlooking the problems that people face on daily basis. “The authorities built the road of Ladakh and Zojila but paid no attention to the roads of our area. This showed the non-serious approach of Government towards the connectivity of remote areas,” he said.
The locals also said that every year crores of rupees under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and Border Areas Development Program (BADP) are spent in the State but their area never gets any attention. “Nothing is being done to maintain this important connecting link,” they said.
The residents said that they approached the former MLA repeatedly to get the road repaired but their pleas have not been heard, so far. “The road stretch from Razdan to Kanzalwan up to Dawar is in bad shape having potholes and dirt. The road is dug up at several places. No major repair work has been carried out on the road since past several years,” they said.
The locals said that the deplorable condition of the road also discourages the transporters to ply their vehicles on the road. “The transporters refuse to travel on this road which is hampering the movement of the people,” they said.
The residents also said that a road was constructed several years ago which connects Gurez with Drass but the road was never opened. “The road would have boosted tourism activity of the Gurez valley but the road was never thrown open due to unknown reasons. The road will help tourists to visit directly through Drass to Ladakh and Gurez as well,” they said.
The residents also complained that the inner roads in several villages are not in good shape and are connected through clay tracks.
The residents of Telail area complained that the main road of the area which connects them with main Gurez is in deplorable condition. “The road was macadamized up to the Burnayi village but left mid way after that. The road is in bad shape and residents are facing problems in travelling,” they said.
The inhabitants also demanded opening of Gurez – Dudhgayi road which connects the Valley across the border with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). “They were promised that the route will be thrown open but nothing was done for that,” they said.
The inhabitants of the constituency complained that despite 330 megawatt Kishanganga power project being constructed there, the area faces power crisis.
They said National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) that owns the project in past promised that they would generate 2 Megawatt electricity within the Kishenganga Power Project which would cater to the Gurez constituency but the work on that was never started.
They also said that work on another Hydroelectric Power Project was started in past at Astan Nallah but was stopped due to unknown reasons.
The inhabitants said that although various villages of the constituency were electrified for the first time but they still get just about six hours of power supply daily.
When it comes to the health care sector of the constituency, the residents said although the hospitals and health centers are available but they are facing shortage of doctors and other staff due to which people have to face problems to avail proper health care facilities.
The residents said that the main hospital of the constituency- Sub-District Hospital (SDH) Gurez is facing shortage of doctors while as the condition of other hospitals and Sub-Centers is same and complicated cases are often being referred to either Bandipora or Srinagar.
They also said that the situation becomes worst during winters when roads are closed due to snow and critical patients have to be airlifted for the immediate treatment. “If there is a pregnancy case during the winter months when roads are buried under several feet of snow, the civil administration has to arrange the choppers or seek help from the Army which sends its helicopters to airlift the would-be mother,” Bashir Ahmad Khan, a resident said.
The inhabitants of the constituency also complained that the land line or mobile connectivity has not improved and certain areas are completely cut off in terms of the connectivity.
They said recently Reliance Jio towers were installed in many areas but the far flung areas are still facing poor connectivity.
The residents also demanded that the tourism activities in the Gurez valley should be boosted by encouraging the tourists to visit the place.
They said that they raised the issue of foreign tourists be given permission to visit Gurez with the former MLA but to no avail.
The former MLA, Nazir Ahmad Khan said that in previous tenure, various developmental activities were carried out in the constituency and he did his best to address the problems faced by the people.
He said the road connectivity of the constituency has improved and about 30 kilometers of new roads were constructed in various villages of the constituency, about 10 kilometers of road were macadamized and about five kilometers of tile paths were constructed in the constituency.
Besides, he said one circular road was sanctioned for the Dawar on which work is going on and development of another road at Khandyal to Athwathu was started which will reduce the Bandipora to Gurez road about half distance.
To uplift the education sector in the constituency, Khan said a college in Tulail area was constructed, two higher Secondary Schools were constructed in Kilanshay and Kanzalwan and two High Schools were constructed at Burnayi and Kurakbal.
He said the constituency remains cut off during winters due to heavy flow of snow and for that helicopter service was started and six new helipads were constructed at different locations of the constituency.
Khan said in Dawar area, Rs 4.50 crores have been sanctioned for a stadium, construction of which will be started this year and seven small playfields were developed in Tulail area.
When it comes to the electricity sector, Khan said five villages of the constituency that were without electricity supply till date were electrified and a new power project was sanctioned at the cost of Rs 120 crore through which a transmission line will from constructed from Gurez to Tulail.
He said the constituency was facing problem in mobile connectivity and to address that the towers of Reliance Jio were installed for the first time and this year whole constituency will have Reliance Jio connectivity. Besides, he said BSNL fiber cable also reached Gurez which help further in mobile connectivity.
He also said that about 20 water supply schemes were sanctioned for the constituency and work on them will be started from this year.
In Healthcare sector, Khan said a 30 bedded hospital at Dawar area was sanctioned, work on which is going on, a 10 bedded hospital at Budugam area has been sanctioned and 12 new Sub-Centres have been given to different villages.
Besides, he said four ambulances and an intensive care ambulance were provided in service of the people and X-ray plants were sanctioned for Tulail, Gurez and Baktol.
Khan said: “A snow cutter machine was purchased at the cost of Rs one crore. About 3000 solar lights and 1200 street lights were installed in various areas of the constituency.”
Khan added that a cluster model village has been sanctioned for Dawar area and five new bridges and four Dak Bunglows were constructed in the constituency.