Poonch village where phones never ring...

At a time when the government is claiming to provide equal opportunities to everyone across Jammu and Kashmir, people living in several areas of Loran block of Mandi tehsil of Poonch district continue to remain deprived of mobile telecommunication and still await installation of mobile towers.

“Government needs to bridge the digital divide,” demanded locals of the area.  They said in this advanced age where people everywhere are living their lives with the help of the internet, people living in two panchayats of Loran block are deprived of this vital facility.

“People claim 2G, we don’t even have access to the internet,” they alleged.

Locals of the area said that four thousand people living in two panchayats of Loran block of Mandi Tehsil are still longing for a mobile network.  “Although several people of Bela Bala and Batalkot panchayats of Loran block have mobile phones but the area lacks mobile cellular communication.” locals of the area including Mohammad Sarfaraz, Ajaz Ahmed and others said.

Our mobile phones are being used only as torches or for playing games.  Locals further informed that hundreds of men from these two panchayats are working in Arab countries and they do not even get a chance to talk with their family members.

“Neither the government nor any private company has installed mobile towers in these two panchayats and we are deprived of the very basic right of mobile telecommunication.” locals further said.

“We walk for three kilometres to reach a place where our mobile phones receive mobile signals and we manage to make and receive calls.”  Mohammad Bashir, a resident of Bela Bala village said.

The people of both the panchayats have appealed to the district administration of Poonch and Jammu and Kashmir UT Lieutenant Governor to get mobile towers installed in their areas so that their problems can be solved.

When contacted, Tehsildar Mandi Shehzad Latif Khan, said that the communication system is a basic need of the people of BelaB ala and Battalkote.

“I would take up the matter with District Development Commissioner, Poonch in this regard and soon mobile towers would be installed in these areas.” said Tehsildar.

Deputy Commissioner Poonch Rahul Yadav said that administration is working on an alternate policy for all these areas which lack mobile communication networks.

Pertinently, under Digital India, the two sub components of Public Internet Access Programme are Common Services Centres (CSCs) and Post Offices as multi-service centres. According to officials CSCs would be strengthened and its number would be increased to 250,000 i.e. one CSC in each Gram Panchayat. CSCs would be made viable and multi-functional end-points for delivery of government and business services. DeitY would be the nodal department to implement the scheme.

“We are hoping we will soon have internet access in our areas,” locals said.