ANANTNAG: Four major water supply schemes in Anantnag district – aimed at providing potable drinking water to at least 75 villages – have not seen any work for more than six years now.
The water supply schemes include Watnar, Dachnipora, Shangus and Tantraypora. They were sanctioned in the year 2008 – with an estimated cost of Rs 25.42 crore, Rs 18.90 crore, Rs 32.85 crore, and Rs 28.48 crore, in that order.
Work on the water supply schemes was subsequently started in the year 2012. However, after some initial work carried out on the schemes, they have been left untouched and no further work has been carried out since.
The people living in villages covered by these schemes have been struggling for clean drinking water for years. They still remain dependent on contaminated water sources like streams and wells in their respective areas.
“We have been battling diseases and other outbreaks as we continue to consume contaminated water. Repeated requests to the concerned authorities have yielded nothing,” Ghulam Muhammad Khan, a resident of Srigufwara area in Bijbehara, said.
The woes of other people living in these 75 villages are the same.
People allege that the schemes were neglected by the PDP-BJP government for the simple reason that they had been started by the earlier regime.
“They probably felt that the NC-Congress government may take credit for these schemes. What they don’t understand is that the sufferings of people are more important than their petty vote-bank politics,” locals in Shangus area said.
Sources in Public Health Engineering (PHE) department told Kashmir Reader that work on these schemes was stopped because of lack of funds.
“You already know the budget of these schemes. Unfortunately, less than Rs 1 crore for each scheme has been released as of now,” the sources told Kashmir Reader.
They said that the work done was more than the money released thus far, the contractors of these schemes bearing the brunt of the unreleased money.
“On the Dachnipora scheme the contractors have done work worth more than Rs 2.5 crores, but their payments have been held up. We have not received any funds,” a senior official in the PHE department said, on condition of anonymity.
Moreover, the official said, the “categorisation” under National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) has hurt the schemes bad.
“It was decided that developmental projects will be categorised on the basis of expenditures done,” he said, explaining that if the money already spent on the project was more than 25 percent of its total estimated cost, it would be funded by the centre and if otherwise it had to be funded by the state.
All these four water supply schemes fall within the latter category of expenditure incurred being less than 25 percent of total cost.
“The state government has been complacent at best. They have not looked back on these schemes,” the official said. “Now that we are under Governor’s Rule, may be the funds would be released – to end the miseries of people as well as the contractors of these schemes.”
Chief Engineer of the PHE, Abdul Wahid, acknowledged what the sources had told Kashmir Reader.
“In the coming year we will try to get a couple of these schemes funded by the central government. These are huge schemes and they will take some time to complete,” Wahid said.