Uri still grapples with basic issues

Ex-MLAs’ Report Card, Constituency: Uri – Mohd Shafi (NC)

Waseem Ahmad
URI: Uri, a small border town on river Jhelum in Baramulla district was considered to be the gateway to Kashmir valley before partition. The Uri constituency grapples with basic issues like drinking water, road connectivity, health care and crumbling educational infrastructure.
The Assembly constituency of Uri is a part of Baramulla Parliamentary constituency. In 2014 elections, Mohammad Shafi of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) emerged as winner. He defeated Aijaz Ali Khan of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) by a margin of 5792 votes. Shafi polled 24359 votes and khan polled 18567 votes. The party was earlier represented by Congress leader Taj Mohi-ud-Din.
The fro-ntier constituency has villages scattered along the mountains, connected with roads that skirt the hilly terrain. Being the border area, Uri gets funds under Border Area Development Programme (BADP) for the overall development in addition to the routine funds from the State.
The residents of the constituency said most of the development happened soon after devastating earthquake in 2005 but after that there is no improvement here.
The inhabitants of the constituency complained that it lacks development and various projects that were initiated have not been completed, besides, funds meant for development of the villages got lapsed. “There is hardly any visibility of development in the constituency as no new projects can be seen. Some of the projects that were sanctioned are either left midway or not started at all. Most of the funds provided through various schemes like PMGSY, BADP, MGNREGA were lapsed as the funds were left unspent on various works,” they said.
The residents of the Uri town complained that the internal roads have not been macadamized and work on some of the roads was started but that were also left midway. They also said that the construction of a parallel road on the other side of the main highway was started but that too was not completed. “We raised the issue with the former local representative but to no avail”, they said.
The residents of Nambla said that the road in their area is in shambles as it has not been macadamized and the area often witness frequent power cuts.
One of the main issues that the residents of the constituency complain is the poor education facilities. “The education sector in the constituency is pathetic. Various schools at several areas of the constituency including Dhanni, Choona, Guttliyan and Gingal are without proper facilities. The main problem is that the infrastructure of the schools has not been developed for several years. Besides, the schools are facing dearth of staff. Only, schools falling on the main highway or roads are somewhat developed while the schools in villages are ignored,” Mohammad Ayoub Khan, a resident said.
The residents of Gingal area complained that there is zero development in the area and people have to face series of problems including dilapidated roads, water scarcity, un-employment, bad condition of schools and Electricity issues.
They said the education sector is the most affected one as it lacks basic facilities. “About 70 percent of the schools are without proper infrastructure. We have four primary schools but the infrastructure of all the schools is in pathetic condition. Some of the schools are functional from one or two rooms and the roll of students is more than 100. A High School building was damaged in 2005 earthquake but till date, the building was not constructed,” Shabir Ahmad, a resident said.
He said the area also lacks a Higher Secondary School due to which students are suffering. “There are 20 villages around Gingal but there is no higher secondary available for the students and they have to travel long distance,” Shabir said.
The residents also said that a dispensary is available here but that too lacks facilities and hardly any doctor is available there. Besides, they said “the area is facing water scarcity. Although there are various natural sources of water but proper pipes are not being laid so that water will be available for the people. We still got water for half an hour a day.”
An elderly person, Ghulam Nabi Dar said that the Agriculture of the whole area is at standstill for last so many years due to non availability of water. “Irrigation schemes were never implemented. The agriculture land is being abandoned for past five years due to lack of water. We have plenty of water available but there are no canals through which water can reach to the fields,” he said.
The youth of the area complained that there is no playground in the villages and they are being confined to their homes or play in agriculture fields.
Javed Ahmad, another resident of the Gingal area said that the electric poles and wires have not been replaced in the area for decades. “We have old wood poles erected here and in some villages; at places wires are tied to trees,” he said.
People of Banali village in Trikanjan said that they have no electricity, no drinking water and no proper road connectivity.
The residents said that the filtration plant in the area is lying defunct for a long time now and in the absence of proper water supply, they are being forced to fetch the ‘contaminated’ water from a nearby rivulet. “In the absence of portable water, water borne diseases which include diarrhoea, typhoid, and fever is common in the area,” they said
“No proper macadamization has been done on the road which connects Banali to other areas. The potholes at intermittent places make it difficult for the vehicles and locals alike to tread along the road.” they added.
The residents of the constituency said that due to lack of basic facilities in these border villages, some residents, reluctantly and unwillingly, have migrated to Uri town or Baramulla.
The residents of Garkote village said that the area is connected by a narrow, damaged road to the main Uri road. “The road snaking up to the last household of the village on the hilltop is completely damaged. Minor landslides have made the road a pathway at some places, with drivers dangerously maneuvering their vehicles to move ahead,” they said.
Uri town which is frequented by the villagers living on hilltops for shopping, healthcare, other official work or to travel to Srinagar and Baramulla lacks basic facilities like parking for vehicles, space for vendors, and public conveniences.
Uroosa and its adjoining villages like Chakara, Guwati, Chakara and Muripatti san health facilities. “If anybody takes ill, we have to take him to Uri, 15 km away,” the residents said.
Life in Boniyar and Kamalkote is similar to that of the villages in Uri. Villages like Salamabad, Nambla, Nowhshera, Trakanjan, Dulanja, Sultandaki, Duvara, Paranpeela and other hamlets have seen less development.
The residents said they face drinking water shortage, lack health facilities and the education infrastructure is lacking.
One of the main projects Nand Singh (NS) bridge on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway is incomplete despite passing of more than 12 years when the work on it was started.
As per locals, the bridge which connects nearly 30 far-flung villages of the main town of Uri is like a lifeline for them. “After the bridge was damaged in the earthquake, several villages of Uri remained cut off for a while until Border Roads Organization (BRO) constructed a makeshift bridge at its place but that too lies damaged during the flash floods of 2014 and needed immediate repairs. Its pillars have developed cracks. People are putting their lives at risk by using it. During heavy rains, huge flow of water in the nallah increases the chances of mishaps,” Saleem khan, a local said.
While speaking on behalf of the ex-MLA, Mohammad Shafi, his representative, said that despite remaining in the opposition, they did their best to develop the constituency. “Despite in the opposition and in the fragile government, we are satisfied that the constituency has been developed to a large extent. Apart from unemployment in the area, rest of the issues has been addressed in the constituency,” he said.
He said in R&B sector, 13 new schemes under PMGSY were roped in the constituency. “Under PMGSY, up-gradation of three main roads including Lagama Ghar Kote road, Boniyar Barnaith road and Shahpur Limber road were taken at the cost of Rs 20 crores and work on these projects is going on,” he said.
He said that Uri is the only constituency in which three roads under CRF were sanctioned and a parallel highway on the other side of the main highway from Shadra Kamalkote upto Baramulla was constructed. Besides, three roads under NABARD were sanctioned and work on them is also going on.
He said in the tribal plan, funds were never provided but for the first time Rs 4 crores were taken under this plan in R&B sector.
“Two projects of R&B were put in the languishing projects for completion. Besides, most of the lanes and by-lanes of Uri town were macadamized,” he said.
In PHE, the former MLA’s representative said “we tried to strengthen the old schemes and new schemes water supply schemes were also provided so that people do not face scarcity of water anywhere in the constituency”. “A new water supply scheme worth Rs 6 crores was sanctioned for the Uri town. Rikyan water supply scheme worth Rs 4 crores was provided that caters to five big villages including Soora, Hathlanga, Danni, Sillikote and Balkote that was a long pending demand of the people. Besides water supply schemes in Thajjal, Gharkote, Bilalabad, Gohalan, Shahkote and Paranpeela were approved. 13 languishing projects of PHE were approved,” he said.
He said various schools in the constituency were upgraded and infrastructure of the schools was also developed. “High school Nambla was upgraded to Higher Secondary, Middle School Barrnate was upgraded to High School, Up-gradation of Gingal High School, Salambad High School and Khoshanmarg Middle School is under progress. Construction of two Girls hostel is going on. Land has been identified for the Kasturbha Gandhi School for girls and work on it is going on. Building of Boniyar KGP school was completed. Various Schools that were damaged during 2005 earthquake are under-construction; they were put in the languishing projects for completion and the files have been sent for the approval,” he said.
Under BADP, the former MLAs representative said Rs 20 crores were given in R&B sector and Rs 6 crores in PDD sector. “Electricity feeders were changed. Laalpul and Kamalkote villages were given separate feeders. Funds worth Rs 6 crores were given for New Transformers, New creations, Augmentations, HTs and LTs. Rs 2 crores from CDF were also spent on electricity sector. Installation of new grid stations at various areas has been recommended,” he said.
He said in Health sector, the Sub-District hospital (SDH) was facing various problems like dearth of staff and no surgeries were done in the hospital but during their tenure the problems were addressed. “We have all the staff available there now and most of the surgeries are being done in the hospital. 19 posts were lying vacant in different Primary Health Centres (PHC) that were filled. Six ambulances were given under CDF for PHCs in the constituency. X-Ray plant and ultrasound machine were given to the SDH and Boniyar PHC,” he said.
When asked about the NS Bridge, he said it has already been taken from the BEACON authorities but there was a tussle between the contractor and the authorities, so the case in Court now and that is why the project has been pending.
He further said that more than Rs 70 lakhs under the CDF has been spent on the drainage, parks, lighting and paths of the Uri town.