Residents of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district have accused the administration of constantly denying them basic facilities despite the town paying taxes more than any other towns across north Kashmir.
The residents cited filthy roads, lack of proper drainage and better health facilities as age old problems of the town, ‘which the administration is shying away from solving.’
Terming it as step-motherly treatment, the representatives of the Sopore Economic Alliance (SEA) said that despite increase in the population since last three decades, the authorities could not implement the draft masterplan, which has resulted in haphazard structural growth further compounding the problems.
“The draft master plan 2011-2027 was prepared long back by the previous Govt. Later the concerned authorities sought objections from the stakeholders in March 2019. Since then the authorities are showing no interest in implementing the masterplan. The masterplan if implemented would ensure proper expansion of the town and better economic growth,” said Muhammad Ashraf, president SEA.
Residents termed lack of drainage as a major problem. “Be it Iqbal market Sopore or any other part of the town, a rainy day means all the inner as well as major roads are submerged in rainwater. A proper drainage system could prevent such inconvenience for once and all,” said Master Ghulam Ahmad, a resident of Badami Bagh Sopore.
Lack of a dedicated dumping site has resulted in heaps of garbage being dumped on the roadsides giving the famed town a shabby look and increasing chances of diseases. “Earlier, authorities identified Tulibal and Adipora areas for dumping site and after spending around Rs 40 lakh, abandoned the idea. Recently they identified Ningli nallah as dumping site, however, deserted this idea too after questions were raised about site being close to Wullar lake,” he said.
Shortage of potable drinking water has also been a constant headache for people. Muhammad Afzal, a local resident said that only two water supply schemes (WSS), Shrakwara and Watlab, started several decades back for the area are operational. These two WSS’s are insufficient to meet the needs of growing population of the area.
“Though authorities claim that third water supply scheme ‘river Jhelum water uplift scheme’ worth Rs 55 crores was initiated long back, however, there has been no forward movement on the scheme and it seems ‘it has been abandoned’ by the authorities,” added Afzal.
The recent decision of the authorities to convert the Sub District Hospital Sopore into a ‘Covid Hospital’ has deteriorated the already weak health facilities in the Sopore town.
“People have to bear with old hospital building which has no basic facility like x-ray. The poor patients are forced to move either to Srinagar, Baramulla or to private hospital. Surprisingly, the old hospital building has long back been declared as an unsafe building,” rued Muhammad Ismail, a member of Sopore civil society.
Pinning hope over the forthcoming public outreach programme, ‘My Town My Pride’ of the administration, locals say that if the UT administration wants to reach to the people of the town, they should focus on resolving these basic issues within a set timeframe.