Gurez people complain hardships due to road closure, irregular chopper service

Locals complained that the chopper service launched by the government in 2017 for the area, “does not run regularly, which has further compounded our problems.”

EJAZ-UL-HAQ BHAT
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 16 2019 2:06AM | Updated Date: Feb 16 2019 2:10AM
Gurez people complain hardships due to road closure, irregular chopper serviceFile Photo

The residents of remote Gurez Valley in north Kashmir's Bandipora district are facing immense hardships due to closure of Bandipora-Gurez road and irregular chopper service.

Locals complained that the chopper service launched by the government in 2017 for the area, “does not run regularly, which has further compounded our problems.”

“The road usually remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall on Razdan Pass, Tragbal and Gurez valley itself. But the regular operation of the chopper service would ease the problems to some extent,” the locals said.

The 84-km long road is the only link connecting Gurez with Bandipora and the outside world. The road was last closed on Jan 2.  

An official said the chopper service cannot be provided 24x7 as its operation depends on fair weather conditions. “For past several days the chopper service has been stopped as weather conditions were not favourable, " the official said.

Locals said they don't have basic facilities during winter months. "There is shortage of vegetables and other eatables. Patients and students are the worst sufferers. We cannot shift critical patients to Srinagar hospital and they die for want of special treatment here," said Ishtiaq Samoon, a local resident.

He said the only health care institution which is functional in Gurez is SDH at Dawar Tehsil and that too is not well equipped and lacks staff also. 

"The NHM strike has compounded the problems as the hospital solely depends on NHM employees. The primary health centers and sub-centers remain closed in several villages of Gurez valley due to the shortage of staff and medicines, which makes the residents of these remote villages suffer immensely in this harsh winter, " the residents said.

The locals said that many students are stranded in Gurez who were supposed to appear in exams on 15 Feb in Srinagar but due to the closure of road and stoppage of chopper service, they could not. 

"They should be immediately evacuated even if the administration has to take help from the army as their future is at stake," the locals said.

Gurez has two Tehsils: Dawar and Tulail. Dawar is centrally located and government offices including SDM office are located here while Tulail remains cut off from Dawar due to the closure of Tulail-Dawar road.

Locals said that Tulail tehsil remains cut off from Dawar as the road is avalanche prone which has compounded the problems of the villagers. 

They said this year the government didn't provide chopper service to the area as compared to last year. 

"Last year chopper service was provided to Neeru and Baduaab villages of Tehsil but this winter not a single sortie was carried out from Tulail tehsil. We have been facing immense hardships. The government has left us to fend for ourselves as it has turned a blind eye toward our sufferings," the residents said.

Chakwali, the last village of Tulail tehsil which is located at a distance of 55 Kilometre from main Dawar tehsil is facing even more hardships as the village is cut off even from the Tehsil for past more than 20 days.

Deputy commissioner Bandipora, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said there is regular services of Pawan Hans (helicopter carrier) to Gurez and additional MI17 sorties for Tulail Baduaab and Izmarg have been approved for 150 tonnage. 

"Operation of the flights depends on the weather conditions, which is purely decided by the pilots. We are constantly in touch with Pawan Hans and the Army. More than 350 persons have been lifted during last 2 weeks," he said.

He said that Dawar-Tulail road has avalanche warning in place till 19 Feb and people’s lives cannot be put at risk. 

Choudhry said that entire Kashmir valley faced shortage of vegetables due to closure of national highway, however, as far as government supplies are concerned they have sufficient stocks in Gurez which will last up to June 2019.

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