World famous for ski resort, Gulmarg even lacks basic amenities

Waseem Ahmad
GULMARG: Gulmarg constituency in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district is known for its world renowned ski resort where lakhs of people including tourists visit the place annually but the inhabitants are still struggling for basic amenities like portable water, Irrigation, health care, education and electricity.
The Constituency was represented by Mohammad Abass Wani of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who won the 2014 Assembly elections by defeating Ghulam Hassan Mir of JKDPN by a margin of 2811 votes. Wani polled 22957 votes and Mir 20146 votes.
The residents of Wanigam area of Tangmarg said that authorities have failed to provide them portable water and they are being forced to walk long distances to fetch it. “Our men, women and children often fell ill by drinking unsafe water,” the residents said.
The residents of Sirru, Dangerpora area of Tangmarg said that the area often witness power cuts and the transformers often become defunct and not being repaired for months. “We have a 250 KV transformer for 250 households and once its develops snag, we have to wait for months,” they said.
The residents from Tarhama, Waripora, Barzulla, Batapora, Utkoo, Mangloora and Wussan areas said that the area has been always discriminated in terms of facilities.
The residents of Tarhama village said that they are facing tremendous hardships due to the shabby roads. “During rains, the road gets inundated for days thereby adding more miseries to the people. We informed former MLA several times but to no avail,” locals said.
The residents of village Devbugh zone residing just half a kilometer away from main Chowk Kunzer complained that they are fed up with cellular network. “Neither can we browse internet nor can we make a call to our near and dear ones. Our cell numbers often remain not-reachable for hours,” they said.
Overloading in public transport is a serious problem especially in Kunzer Tangmarg and its adjoining areas. “Here the men in blue are not seen anywhere because they don’t feel it necessary to control the overloading, otherwise the problem would have been solved earlier,” the residents said.
The inhabitants of Kunzer and its adjoining villages said that the rate of progress in terms of development in the Constituency is zero and there is hardly any developmental thing that people can cheer about.
The residents said that the condition of roads, lanes and by-lanes has not been changed since decades. “Roads have not been macadamized for last so many years. Even the main highway is in bad condition and is in dire need of repairing. Street lights and electric poles have been erected in past that are defunct now and have not been repaired till date. Even the streets on the main highway are defunct. They are just for show of, otherwise they are not working,” Adil Ahmad, a resident said.
The residents said that a school in Kunzer was constructed in 1969 but it is in dilapidated condition. “The building has not been repaired. Besides, construction of another building was started but till date, it has not been completed,” they said.
Abdul Rasheed, a resident said that for last 45 years, a Primary Health Centre (PHC) is functional in their area but it lacks facilities and needs up-gradation. “The hospital is functional but it lack basic facilities and has not been up-graded due to which people are suffering. We have to rush the patients for other hospitals in Srinagar during emergencies. There is no operation theatre in the hospital. We have to rush the pregnant women to other hospitals,” he said.
Bilal Ahmad, a shopkeeper of Kunzer said that the main market of Kunzer has 350 electricity connections but it has only 250kv transformer due to which it always remains overloaded and often becomes defunct.
Besides, he said meters were installed in the area and it was said that 12 hours electricity will be provided but only two hours of electricity is being provided. He said the main market of Kunzer area lacks toilet facility, drains are choked and sewage is not being collected by the Municipality. “We raised these issues with the former MLA but to no avail”, they added.
The residents also complained that the area is suffering from water scarcity. “A water supply scheme was sanctioned for the area 4 years ago but it has not been approved till date,” they said.
The residents of Channpora area of Kunzer said that despite passing more than 13 long years, Chanapora-Kunzar Bridge is incomplete, while commuters continue to suffer. “The bridge used to be a valuable asset for us as it connects dozens of villages with the National Highway via Kunzar. The bridge was damaged in 2003 and in 2005, the construction of it was started but 13 years have passed, we are still waiting for its completion”, he said.
The inhabitants of Tangmarg area said that about 60 percent R&B works are pending. Besides, they said new school buildings were constructed in Tangmarg but never used because the students were shifted to other schools and the buildings were abandoned. “A school building in Mirpura village was constructed but it has not been used due to unknown reasons. Concerned authorities and contractors receive funds for the construction of these buildings and either uses it or left it mid way,” they said.
The residents of Mulgam village complained that a PHC in the village lacks facilities due to which the villagers are suffering. “No doctors are available during night hours in the hospital and we have to take patients somewhere else,” they added.
The inhabitants of several villages including Hardaeshora, Dooru, Ferozpora and Marispora complained that despite abundant water sources available, they are facing water scarcity and power cuts frequently.
The residents also said that despite timber available, for last six years the sanctioned timber was not distributed among needy people and has been kept to decay in the depot.
The residents of Naminar village said that the road in the area are in shambles for last five years and no widening or macadamization has taken place.
They said a link road from Babareshi shrine to Choontpathri was constructed in 1998 but after that no repairing has been done on it till date and the road is in dilapidated condition due to which commuters have to face immense hardships to travel.
The residents who live around Babareshi shrine and its adjoining villages complained that a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Babareshi lacks facilities including doctors, paramedical staff, X-Ray and ECG machines. “There used to be machines in the PHC but they were shifted to another hospital in Tangmarg because there were no technicians who can handle the machines. We have to directly go the Tangmarg or other hospitals whenever there is an emergency case at night due to non availability of doctors during night hours,” Muhammad Rafiq, a resident said.
The residents of other villages like Choontpathri, Naaminar, Alpathri and Nagbal also complained similar problems including lack of health care facilities, lack transport facilities, dilapidated roads, water shortage and frequent power cuts. “In winters, essential food supplies are hardly supplied to the ration depots of our areas because Food and Supplies vehicles face difficulty in reaching the areas due to snow on roads and we are left without food items for months,” they said.
One of the main issues that the students of these villages said is lack of high schools and higher secondary schools in their areas. “There are no high schools and higher secondary schools available for the students in our villages and we have to go 10 to15 kilometers away in other areas for the studies. It becomes difficult to travel in morning particularly for girl students,” Riyaz Ahmad, a student said, adding, “there is no playground or stadium for the youth.”
The construction of Mini-Secretariat at Tangmarg that was started in 2010 is still incomplete and people suffer. “We were expecting that the time consumption in inter-department dealings would be cut down but due to non-completion of the work the purpose has not been solved”, Ghulam Mohammad, a resident said, adding, they were facing numerous hardships as they have to visit Government departments located in different areas.
One of the main attractions in the constituency is the hill resort of Gulmarg known for its beauty and Ski slopes all around the world. But as per the residents and businessmen, Gulmarg has also been the victim of official apathy.
They said the illegal construction in Gulmarg has made it a concrete jungle and it has lost its charm that used to be in past. “Tourist resort of Gulmarg is not developed. The main road from Tangmarg to Gulmarg should be widened so that the accidents would be prevented. The internal roads in Gulmarg are in dilapidated condition. Illegal construction by the influential persons under the nose of authorities has made Gulmarg a concrete jungle. Despite ban imposed by the High Court in construction, it continues. The former MLA has failed to stop these constructions”, they said.
The residents said that tons of garbage is openly dumped in lush green forests that has not only endangered trees, but also polluted soil, air and water in the area. “The smell emanating from huge piles of garbage scattered over the long slopes on main road has engulfed the area, thus forces people to close window panes of their vehicles while leading towards Gulmarg,” they added. “We raised this issue with the former MLA but nothing changed on the ground”, they said.
The inhabitants as well as hoteliers also said that that authorities have patronized scores of Pony wallas of the area that are working in Gulmarg with horses without any license. “The large number of ponies in Gulmarg bowl has led to foul smell as pony dung is spread all over,” they said. They said that they have political patronage.
The residents of Gulmarg also complained that a Primary Health Centre at Gulmarg has developed huge cracks due to the sinking of underneath land, causing safety fears among patients and staff. “For the last several years the land beneath the hospital has loosened and cracked and that has caused huge damage to the building. Being a top tourist destination the authorities should have provided best healthcare facilities here,” Abdul Hameed a local said.
The residents of Drung area complained lack of development. “Drung is a tourist place only some three kilometers away from Tangmarg town, but tourists and transporters show reluctance in visiting the place, as the only road connecting the area is in dilapidated condition,” locals said, adding, “there are no facilities available in Drung.
When contacted former MLA of the constituency, Mohammad Abass Wani, refused to comment on the issues faced by people. He said he has done enough development in the constituency. “I do not want to comment on anything. I have done enough development and I am answerable to my people only,” he said.