Sopore: The construction of first ever public park project at Sopore town in north Kashmir Baramulla district remains incomplete seven years after work on it was initiated.
However, the unfinished park with a few huts raised in it has become a haven for drug addicts, gamblers and other immoral activities.
Spread over 106 kanals, the park borders Wular lake on one side and River Jhelum on the other.
Residents of adjacent localities, who were elated when the work on the park started, are now ruing the proximity.
“It was around 2011-2012, when the construction started on the project. We were happy as it would have been fruitful for our locality but after two years the work suddenly got stopped and the park was left attended,” Ghulam Nabi Khan, president of Sheer Colony Mohalla, situated near the park said.
“Now this place is witnessing all immoral activities, from drug addiction to gambling, especially in afternoon and evening hours.”
A contractor of the project, who wished not to be named said that it would have been the first public park project in Sopore spread on 106 kanals of land with a restaurant, pond, museum and residential quarter.
“Due to stoppage of work, the dream project for Sopore, which has always been ignored in developmental schemes lies abandoned and the place has become a space for immoral activities.”
He alleged that the authorities have not paid his bills for the work done of the project
“I only received the payment for first two bills when the construction was going on but after the work got stopped, they didn’t pay the remaining bills. They owe me a lot of money and I am planning to lodge a case against them,” the contractor told Kashmir Reader.
Ghulam Nabi, the local resident said that women are afraid to go to the other side of park to draw water.
“We don’t go to the park side anymore, even the women are afraid of going to that side to draw water from the river because of the presence of these people (gamblers, addicts). This public park side is becoming like a red zone for us,” Ghulam Nabi said.
He said that also due to the presence to an army camp few metres from the park, it is impossible to go to “that side” of the park ”even if it’s an emergency”.
“Once we went to the army major to help us in tackling these drug addicts and gamblers, the army major caught few youth but even after counseling and warning by the army major, these activities have not stopped,” Ghulam Nabi said.
Zulfiqar Mohammad Khan, Chief Executive Officer of Wular Manasbal Development Authority, under which the public park project falls told Kashmir Reader that the project was sponsored under a government of India scheme – Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC)- which got closed a few years back.
“The state took the responsibility of these projects on condition that the previous liability should be cleared before further work could be started on it and from last three years, we are clearing the previous liabilities. The construction work will be started on 1st April 2018, when the new funds are released as the 2017-18 funds are already exhausted,” Khan said.
He said the existing infrastructure was damaged mainly due to 2014 floods.
“We have not received any information about immoral activities but we will confirm this from our watchman posted there,” he added.
Superintendent of Police Sopore, Harmeet Singh Mehta also said that they have not received any complaints about any activities.
“But still we will look into this matter,” Mehta said.