Sopore: New Colony Veer is a small, picturesque village in Hygam area only six kilometers from Sopore town. Five years ago, the state government gave it “tourist spot” status. What it forgot to give was electricity supply.
This beautiful but neglected village is located near the Srinagar-Baramulla highway in the midst of dense apple orchards. Almost all households here eke out their livelihood from daily labour and farming. A cluster of houses, all new – the village was established only a decade ago – shelter a population of about 20 families. They live what can only be called a primitive life. The houses are concentrated in a stretch surrounded by a beautiful flowing water stream and government huts for tourists on one side, and a road few meters away from the highway, on the other.
In the absence of electricity, the residents face a lot of hardship. Village headman Ali Mohammad told Kashmir Reader, “Our small village was established almost a decade ago but since then we are living in darkness with no grid-based electricity facility, despite repeated pleas by us to the authorities. We only get hollow assurances from the local administration as well as from our MLA.”
Shahid Ahmad, 20, a first-year college student whose elder brother is studying MBBS, said that government officials including District Commissioner, the MLA and MLC who surveyed the village a few months ago, assured that the demand of electricity will be addressed. “But till date nothing has been done, even after District Commissioner Baramulla gave us a letter which we showed to the PDD (Power Development Department) officials in Sopore. They said it will take a lot of time. So, we stopped visiting their office,” Shahid said.
He added that after the village was declared as a tourist spot, the government constructed huts near the stream and an electric transformer was installed to provide electricity to the huts. He said that when villagers requested that they be given electricity supply from this transformer, the request was peremptorily denied.
“We don’t receive any guests even, because they don’t feel comfortable staying with us in darkness as soon as the sun sets,” Shahid said.
He added, “We have given many applications to the PDD department but they have done nothing as yet.”
The villagers said that though their village is a new one, there is nothing that can be called modern about it.
“We have been left totally disconnected from the developing world,” villagers said. “Due to lack of electricity, our boys and girls find it difficult to study and pursue their education. It has led to most of our youth becoming school dropouts.”
Qurhat, a student, told Kashmir Reader, “The people in adjacent villages call our village a ghost village, because as soon as the sun sets there is complete darkness. During the braid-chopping scare, we left our houses to live with our relatives in adjacent villages.”
Speaking to this reporter, villagers appealed to the authorities to address their problem so that the youth of their village do not remain illiterate, and the villagers do not face such hardships as they are living amidst.
An official in the PDD, when contacted, said that the village is newly established and is yet to be connected with the main grid station. Officials added that the village lacks basic infrastructure like electricity poles and wires and it would take some time to bring it on the electricity map. “W are trying our best to provide them with this basic amenity at the earliest,” an official said.