Sonawari faces multiple problems, people aghast

Suhail Bhat
SONAWARI: Issues ranging from bad roads, deficiency of drinking water, lack of proper health care and ineffective disposal of waste top the list of peoples’ priorities in the Sonawari constituency.
The constituency is facing multiple problems including broken roads, shabby or missing sewerage, insufficient portable water and an absence of adequate health facilities.
Spreading over 100 villages Sonawari constituency in North Kashmir has nearly 65, 000 voters. It has been represented by Mohammad Akbar Lone since 2002. In 2014 Assembly elections Lone won the election from the constituency by defeating the PDP candidate, Yasir Reshi, by 406 votes. However, people alleged that the lawmaker has not made any visible progress on the developmental front.
The residents said that the former legislator made several promises at the time of election but they were not delivered.
The whole constituency is strewn with trash piles as the area lacks a proper dumping site. The people across the constituency complained that disposal of the waste on scientific lines is posing a serious health threat to the people. “The unattended garbage attract dogs thereby posing threat to the lives of the residents,” Ghulam Mohammad, a local said, adding besides inviting diseases, the waste poses a serious threat to Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Wullar.
The inhabitants of Hajin Town, which has more than 5, 000 households, complained that several problems in the area remain unaddressed due to the indifferent attitude of the legislator. “Last five years made no difference here and issues remained unaddressed,” Abdul Rashid Hajam, a resident said.
The residents of the adjoining villages are also grappling for the basic needs. “We have same roads, water supply pipes, electric poles and other important infrastructure established in Bakshi Sahib’s rule,” they said.
The traders said during rains, their shops and houses submerge under water in absence of drainage system in the town. In addition, lack of pure drinking water is forcing the residents to consume contaminated water. “It has put people vulnerable to the water-borne diseases,” Abdul Rahman, a resident said, adding the filtration plant which was allotted to the area to mitigate the water crisis is incomplete for last several years.
The residents said that a Primary Health Centre (PHC) has no sufficient infrastructure and patients are referred to tertiary hospitals for minor complications. “Former Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad sanctioned 250 bedded capacity Sub District Hospital to the area in 2013, but MLA put hindrance in its implementation,” Altaf Ahmad, a local said.
Despite passing four years construction of a footbridge over river Jhelum at Sumbal town of the constituency is still in progress, causing problems in commuting for thousands of people living on the other side of the town.
The locals said foundation stone of the bridge was laid by former MLA in January 2014 but till date, the bridge has not been completed. As per the residents of the area, they have to face immense hardships in travelling because of the absence of any connectivity over river Jhelum as they have to either travel to another village from Sumbal in order to reach to another side of the town or cross the river through boats.
A local, Mohammad Subhan said they have been put in trouble by dismantling of the old bridge. “The old bridge was declared unsafe but at least we used to cross the river through that. The bridge was dismantled and new bridge is yet to come up,” he said.
Some parts of the constituency witnessed some sort of development like construction of drains, pavements and health centre buildings, but people in general, said that they continue to suffer due to the absence of basic amenities.
Saderkoot, Sadunara, Madhuwon, Boniyar, Mukdamyari, Shahgund, Boon, Gund-Jahangir, Vijpora, Katpora, Khombina, Baharabad, Markundal, Poshwari and Ashm villages face water scarcity, erratic power supply and poor health services.
Inhabitants of village Naidkhai, the native village of former MLA, said that apart from construction of the main road and some departmental buildings, he has disappointed the general public of his village. “Some government buildings and roads were repaired recently,” the villagers said, adding, no major initiative was launched in the area which could have benefitted general public in the long run.
Residents said the developmental activity was carried out in some selected areas of the constituency. “We protested against the former MLA over macadamization of some selected lanes and link roads, while neglecting vital link roads in the village,” said a shopkeeper in Naidkhai town.
Residents of several areas alleged that works done under MGNREGA were allotted to some influential people and areas, while as deserving areas were left out. The villagers said that substandard material has been used for the construction of drains, streets and bunds under MGNREGA scheme.
Since maximum population deals in agriculture and its allied sectors, they blamed the former MLA for his failure to address their “genuine” demands of providing facilities aimed at boosting milk production, poultry and sheep breeding.
The farmers said that the agriculture sector is passing through the worst phase due to the absence of proper irrigation facilities in the area. “We fear that this season paddy and other crops may yield lesser yield due to the scarcity of water in the area,” they said.
The locals from several areas said that the former MLA has failed to replace decades-old wooden electric poles and damaged wires in the majority of the villages. “At many places, electric wires are tied to trees and as the wind blows electricity remain cut off for days together,” scores of the residents told Excelsior.
The residents and traders of Sumbal Town companied about lack of drainage system, playground, Public Park, and Townhall. Aunderkoot, Wangipora, Shulwat, Shadipora, Ganasthan, Nowgam, Ashm, Nisbal, Naninara and Tengpora villagers have similar problems.
The inhabitants of Safapora said the area has been neglected on developmental front. They said the area is provided unfiltered water as the Manasbal filtration plant is still incomplete.
The building of the PHC Nowgam was completed but authorities termed it unsuitable for the healthcare facilities, “the contractors did not follow the recommended design and that made it useless,” a local said.
The villagers of Trisa, Pahlipora, Chewa, Chindergeer, Ziripora, Gratabal, Gulabagh and Chesma Manasbal said that they have been neglected. They said that the health sector is in shambles and there is dearth of staff, doctors and proper infrastructure.
Former MLA Mohammad Akbar Lone said that he is satisfied with the development of his constituency as works were done in all the major sectors.
On the issue of healthcare, he said The MLA said to improve healthcare facilities in the area, one 100 bed Sub District Hospital (SDH) is under construction, which is expected to complete by the end of this year. He said that infrastructure has been improved in these years by providing service of medicos, technical and non-technical staff.
To provide tape water all the villages in Sonawari Constituency, several over-head tanks have been constructed during his tenure at Madvan, Mukdamyari, Banyari, Bakshibal, Sadonara, Hakbara, Asham, Hajan, Baharabad, Khuminah, Shahgund, Gundboon, Poshwari, Gundjehangir, Saadatpora, Naidkhai, Nowgam, Sunbara, Zalpora, Rakh Shilwat, Shilwat, Shadipora, Tregam, Ganastan, Kowpora, Pehlipora and Safapora. Apart from these, near about 60 bore wells have been dug in the area.
For improving education in the area, that one Government College at Sumbal, another at to Hajan was sanctioned and besides one ITI.
He said that almost 99 per cent roads of Sonawari Constituency have been macadamized including some major roads like Khanpeth Nowgam to Sumbal, Khanpeth Nowgam to Shelwat and Tregam, Sumbal to Saderkot Saderkot to Hajan via Sudnera, Sumbal to Hajan, Hajan to Mukdamyari, Banyari, Malikpora, Sumbal to Naidkhai and Tarzoo to Naidkhai. Besides, Interior link roads of some 40 villages were first time macadamized on which hundreds of crores of rupees were spent.
The MLA said that dozens of Irrigation schemes got sanctioned to irrigate lakhs of kanals of paddy land in the constituency.