Bandipora, Sep 15: Vewan village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district is still craving for basic amenities like potable water supply, electricity, roads and mobile connectivity while healthcare is also not up to the mark.
With a population of around 600 semi-tribals, the uphill village recently hogged headlines for being the first village across the country to vaccinate 100 percent population in the 18 years and above age group against COVID-19.
According to locals, the village almost 22 km from the district headquarters has been neglected by the successive regimes.
It was only recently that a road was approved in 2018-19 and electricity lines laid.
However, the dream to see electricity was short-lived when construction of the road finally began.
“The electric lines got snapped and electric poles uprooted by the machines used by the agency constructing the road to the village from Athwatoo tourist resort,” said middle-aged Abdul Hamid. “Our happiness was short-lived.”
Now locals are apprehensive about seeing electricity any time soon given the amount of damage the power infrastructure in the village received.
According to the district electric officials, 129 HT poles were laid that supplies electricity to the village using two 63 KV transformers and 70 LT poles.
The officials said that in 2019 the project was completed and for about a month the village received electric supply.
However, being a congested forest area, electricity lines get damaged from time-to-time but electric supply used to be restored after repair works.
After that PMGSY started excavation works, the loosened trees and snow again damaged the power supply lines.
The lines were again restored but in March, the snow and trees coupled with excavation work damaged around 40-50 electricity poles.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Executive Engineer, Electric, Bandipora, Javid Ahmad Wagah said, “The damage report of around Rs 14 lakh has been submitted to the district administration and as and when funds are received, the lines will be restored.”
Moreover, the 14-km road from Athwatoo to Vewan which further connects to Labkachal being constructed by PMGSY is still incomplete.
The Rs 8.49 croreproject is progressing under stage three.
“Work is in progress,” Executive Engineer PMGSY, Bilal AhamdReshi told Greater Kashmir.
According to Reshi, the reason for the delay was that the road passed through a forest area and it took time to get clearance from the Forest department in cutting trees.
For Javid Malik, a school teacher posted at Government High School, Vewan, water scarcity makes it difficult to live in the area as no water source is located nearby.
The villagers of Vewan don’t receive potable water and the springs where they once fetched water have run dry for several years, forcing them to utilise water for drinking purposes from sinkholes which they dug out manually while others fetch water from springs after traveling some distance.
The water tank constructed decades ago has not been made functional yet.
Executive Engineer, PHE Bandipora, Abdul Khaliq Qureshi said that the absence of potable water supply was a serious issue and the villagers consumed water from a spring while only a few houses were connected with water supply lines.
Khaliq said a water supply scheme had been approved and was awaiting allotment under the JalJeevan Mission.
With no mobile connectivity in the village too, the phones here are silent.
In this age of information, the villagers said that they are mostly unaware of the happenings of the outside world with radio being the only medium to get information as without electricity, they are not able to even watch television.
The villagers said that the healthcare facilities in the village were negligible with locals being forced to travel several kilometers, sometimes even ferrying patients like expecting mothers on cots to the hospital.