Banihal, June 4: Construction work of 24 km long link road from Maroog village along NH 44 was started in the year 2003-04 under the PMGSY to connect over a dozen villages of several Panchayats including Ahadwah panchayat.
Trapped in administrative inertia, around 5000 Inhabitants of unconnected Ahadwah Panchayat, located on a steep hill in the upper reaches of Ramban town, have still been awaiting its completion even after the lapse of twenty years, to get their link road.
Devoid of any medical facility in their Panchayat, the locals trek several kilometres; negotiate steep heights with their patients, including pregnant women on cots to reach their nearest medical facility i.e., Ramban hospital.
Coming to the education sector, as per locals, the buildings of their Middle School and High School too have been “under-construction since 2011.” Hence classes of 10th standard students are being run from two rooms of Primary School.
Feeling dejected, the inhabitants say that they have “found a glimmer of hope in the LG’s Grievance Cell.”
“However, the concerned department officials misrepresented the facts in their reply to the Cell. We are miffed yet not hopeless and have faith in the Lieutenant Governor and his team of senior officers,” they say while sharing their grouse with Greater Kashmir.
HISTORY OF AHADWAH
The local people and the representatives of Panchayat Ahadwah, including Naib Sarpanch Jatinder Singh, Panch Bashir Ahmad, Panch Ranbeer Singh, while talking to Greater Kashmir, stated, “Ahadwah village was settled by a person namely Ahad Singh, hundreds of years ago. The people of Pogal Paristan used to travel on foot from upper mountain ridges via Ahadwah village to reach Ramban even after independence.”
“With the passage of time, the development works were initiated and completed in other far-flung villages of Ramban district. But unfortunately, the people in Ahadwah panchayat have still been living a tough, difficult and miserable life. Ours is the most backward panchayat in Ramban district as we are still using a steep kachcha path, developed and traversed during Maharaja’s time. The officials and political leaders never felt the pain of far-flung and backward villagers of Ahadwah,” they rue.
“Young, elders, children, women alike have no option but to travel on foot to reach Tehsil, block and district headquarters Ramban for routine daily works, schools, hospitals. It is a daily routine for us,” said Panch Ranbeer Singh of Ward No 1 Darbote of Ahadwah Panchayat. He said, “I had offered to resign as PRI representative one year back after serving as Panch for three years. Reason was that as PRI representatives we failed to solve our development issues as no one was listening to us or taking note of our problems.”
PMGSY LINK ROAD UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR PAST 20 YEARS
Naib Sarpanch Ahadwah Jatinder Singh informed, “The construction of 24 km long link road from Maroog village along Srinagar Jammu National Highway was started in the year 2003-04 under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to connect over a dozen villages of Battery Chashma, Gaam, Balihoot and Ahadwah Panchayats. But even after twenty long years, this road has not been completed.”
He said, “Instead of completing the link road up to its final destination i.e., Ahadwah, the PMGSY Ramban allegedly abandoned the road after constructing 18 kms or so. As a consequence, the villagers of Darbot, Beeba, Bhatta, Batiya, Shora, Garshalli and Tharmola of Ahadwah panchayat are suffering without road connectivity.”
The locals informed that considering their day to day difficulties, the present DC Ramban had ordered the construction of another seven-kilometer long link road from Neera village to connect Ahadwah village.
“But PWD officials prepared a DPR of only one kilometer of road and completed it. The construction of a further 6-kilometer road up to Ahadwah village was not taken up by the department, for reasons best known to its officials. The PWD officials did not furnish facts in their reply to the LG’s Grievance Cell,” the locals and PRI representatives alleged.
They claimed that there was no land issue vis-a-vis Neera-Ahadwah link road and the maximum portion of road was under state and forest land.
Bashir Ahmad, a local panch, said, “It is difficult for the patients to reach the district Hospital Ramban for timely treatment. Only option is to carry the serious patients and even pregnant women on our backs or on cots to reach there (Ramban hospital) trekking steep hilly terrain. In the winters the process of shifting patients to hospital becomes a matter of life and death. Several died in the past due to lack of immediate medical treatment in absence of transport and road facility.”
NEGLECTED EDUCATION SECTOR
Talking about neglected education sector, the villagers and PRI representatives said, “High School Ahadwah is facing a shortage of teaching staff and the students are also suffering due to lack of building. Only four teachers are posted for 160 students, all hailing from poor families. The classes for 10th standard students of High School Ahadwah are being run from two rooms of Primary School Ahadwah. The buildings of High School and Middle School have been under construction since 2011.”
“The matter related to shortage of teaching staff and lack of school building has been brought to the notice of Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) and Chief Education Officer (CEO) Ramban several times but no action has been taken till date,” they alleged.
PROPOSALS UNDERWAY TO CONNECT AHADWAH PANCHAYAT: DC
When contacted DC Ramban Mussarat Islam over the issues of Ahadwah, he said, “Yes, that area is unconnected. But several proposals are underway to connect Ahadwah Panchayat.”
Regarding incomplete school buildings in Panchayat Ahadwah, DC Ramban said, “A list of 140 school buildings, which need urgent repairs, has already been sent to the education authorities. This list also includes the High School Ahadwah building. Besides, I am closely monitoring development on both link roads connecting the unconnected Ahadwah people.”