Srinagar, Dec 6: Residents of Rakh-e-Arth on Monday staged protest here seeking basic amenities in the locality.
The residents assembled at Press Enclave here and raised pro-justice slogans.
“Once a wetland at Bemina, Rakh-e-Arth has been turned into a site for rehabilitation of Dal dwellers shifted from the water body for its preservation. But literally the place has turned into a slum due to lack of basic facilities,” they said.
The rehabilitation of Dal dwellers is a part of project to conserve Dal Lake.
"In 2007, the government announced to relocate Dal dwellers and rehabilitate them at Rakh-e-Arth which was supposed to be developed on modern lines with all facilities like hospitals, schools and other amenities. But lack of health, education and transportation facilities is causing immense hardships for us,” they said.
“Over 1100 households have been shifted to Rakh-e-Arth . There is no facility and it in no way a suitable place for dwelling,” they said.
As per locals at Rakh-e-Arth, hospital and school buildings are under construction for past 4 years, “but the process of their construction is very slow.”
Health experts said that inhabitants of Rakh-e-Arth are suffering from multiple non-communicable diseases and psychiatric issues.
"There is no public health centre or a small dispensary in our locality. We don't even have transport facilities available to rush to hospital in case of any medical emergency," said Mushtaq Ahmad, a relocated resident.
"Entire population including men, women and children are suffering here. So they have adjustment-related problems because a labourer has to go from this place to Dalgate. This place has no transport facilities as well," said another protestor.
The locality also does not have a ration shop. Families have to travel to Dalgate area for receiving monthly food grains from government stores.
"Then we have to pay Rs 200 to 300 to a load carrier to carry ration back to this place," said Ashfaq Ahmad, another relocated resident.
The site also has school and children of the relocated families have to travel long distances for basic education.
Chairman Kashmir Welfare Trust, Manzoor Ahmad Wangoo, who has constructed houses for 115 families at Rakh-e-Aarth and runs from pillar to post for their welfare, said that health and education must be a priority for the authorities.
"Government had agreed to provide us 5 kanals of land at Rakh-e-Arth for construction of a school. But no headway has been made for demarcation of land so that we could start a branch of Bilalya Educational Institute here," Wangnoo said.