Neglected village in North Kashmir longs for basic amenities

Representational Pic
Representational Pic

Bandipora, Mar 19: A neglected village, Zurimanz, also known as “Bangladesh”, in  Bandipora district is longing for basic amenities

The villagers , who are mainly fishermen, have lived here for centuries without roads, instead choosing to “travel by dinghies” and cross mountain passes to travel outside.

During summer months the road gets  “submerged” under the Wullar lake’s waters.

According to Abdul Aziz Malla, a 65-year-old villager, during the 1971 war, a devastating fire broke out in Zurimanz, destroying dozens of homes in this village..

“At that time, officials who relocated the fire victims to a new area inside the village called it Bangladesh. Since then, the new residents who are spread throughout various neighbourhoods in the village have been collectively referred to as Bangladesh,” Aziz said, adding that “it is an area within the Zurimanz village.”

Basic amenities such as roads, potable water, healthcare, and mobile connectivity remain are not up to the mark.

“We have been requesting good roads and healthcare and other facilities, but successive governments seem heedless,” Aziz said.

Similarly the new type primary health centre (NTPHC), which should serve the medical needs of villagers, is also not up to par, lacking all modern equipment and operating from a decrepit room in a house.

“We cannot even accommodate a single patient for an intravenous injection. We need to transport our sick outside of the village for basic medical aid,” Aziz shared further.

At times, they have to transport critically ill patients on cots since the road provides no easy commute, particularly during winters when life seems to come to a halt here.

Locals stated that work on the new hospital building, constructed in 2016, has been “abandoned” without reason. Additionally, without a doctor, nursing orderlies and medical assistants run the affairs at the rented room for NTPHC.

“The housing board began constructing the new NTPHC building after demolishing the old structure. After erecting a concrete structure, no work has been done since 2016,” said Mohammad Hussain Dar, 45.

According to Block Medical Officer Dr Masarat Iqbal, “The building has been completed, but internal work remains pending.” He said now the funds of Rs nine lakh  under PRI grants have been released and await execution.

Despite this, the majority of the village’s fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the lake’s produce, are disillusioned with the road constructed to the village a few years ago by the Roads and Buildings department.

“During the summer, when water chestnut cultivation is at its peak, the poor condition of the road affects our transport supply, thus limiting our earnings from the harvest. Additionally, when the water level is high, the road remains submerged under lake water for most of the summer,” said Bilal Ahamd Dar, a fisherman dealing with the water chestnut trade for 20 years.

Executive Engineer PMGSY Bandipora Bilal Ahmad asserts that the teams have already conducted ground surveys and located those spots where the road gets submerged. “We have already prepared the DPR which awaits approval, moreover the project reports have already undergone state scrutiny and we anticipate it will be approved this year,”  he said.

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