“No Road, No Vote”: Doda’s Keller Valley residents threaten to boycott elections

Residents of 4 panchayats in remote Keller Valley in Doda district have threatened to boycott elections as they claimed that successive governments failed to construct a road in their village.
“No Road, No Vote”: Doda’s Keller Valley residents threaten to boycott elections

Residents of 4 panchayats in remote Keller Valley in Doda district have threatened to boycott elections as they claimed that successive governments failed to construct a road in their village.

Located in the South Western part of additional district Bhaderwah, Keller Valley has a population of 10, 000 souls, 7, 800 among them voters.

Prominent people of the four panchayats- Southa, Khelleni, Drafda and Duggli-on Tuesday held a meeting and unanimously decided that if the government would not sanction fund for the construction and macadamisation of BeeruBasti-Duggli Pradhan MantriGraminSadakYojana (PMGSY) road in their village, they will boycott the 2019 General Election.

Beeru-Basti to Duggli road which was supposed to connect at least 10000 souls of 16 villages including Khelleni, Batoli, Bada, Goda, Lehrote, Southa, Danda, Shirinda, Gidi, Shamprota, Nalla, Drafda, Dalli, Gali, Dugli and Chilly of 4 panchayats, was undertaken by PMGSY in 2004 and was supposed to be completed in 18 months but even after 14 years, to enjoy the benefits of proper motorable road remains a distant dream for these villagers.

Villagers claim that they are afraid to use 10 Km long road that leads to Bhalla and Bhadarwah. "The going become difficult during dry weather because of 2 to 5 feet of dust and in wet weather the road turns into mud pool and becomes so slippery, hurting those who dare to ply along it," said Dev Raj of Bhada village in SouthaPanchayat.

"There is definitely something fishy as the earth work has been completed a decade ago but despite running from pillar to post neither macadamisation nor metteling process has been initiated so far and both the administration and political representatives have maintained a criminal silence over the issue. So today, representatives of all the 4 panchayats have unanimously decided to boycott the forthcoming elections, "Dev Raj added.

Jaan Mohammad, a retired teacher of panchayatDuggli said, "We have lost several precious lives because of the pathetic condition of the road as no one is ready to ply his vehicle on this road. Our only demand since last 15 years remained the completion of this road. Now, after utilizing all our resources in vain, we have lost faith in electoral process and are compelled to boycott all the elections."

"The road is in such a pitiable state that even outsiders refuse to use it. Often, weddings arrangements have to be changed, as the baarat refuses to walk up the entire distance. Despite repeated requests, MLA Daleep Singh Parihar has not paid any attention or spared any effort towards building a safe road," said BalKrishan of village Danda, adding that no one will caste vote from the area.

Prominent representatives of all the 4 concerned Panchayats, who signed the memorandum of boycotting the elections in support of their demands, include Duni Chand, Abdul Gani, Rajinder, Amar Nath, Hans Raj, Lekh Raj, IsharLal, Nain Chand, Ayaz Ahmed and others.

When contacted, Assistant Executive Engineer, PMGSY Doda, Atta Mohd Sheikh said, "There was a dispute with contractors due to which work on all the PMGSY roads in district Doda got badly affected. For Beeru-Basti-Duggli road, contractor has been asked to start soling and metteling work immediately but he could not procure the material from ChabraQuerry due to which work got delayed."

"I assure you that the pending work on said road will be taken up within weeks time as contractor has already started procuring the material from ThathriQuerry and I am hopeful that the road will be made motorable by mid of July," AEE added.

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