Budgam: Picturesque Arizal, a village in the foothills of the famous tourist resort, Dodpathri, in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, reflects a picture of an area forgotten for ages, devoid of all basic amenities with even roads still a distant dream and potable water an amenity they hardly can think of, despite the area being known for its fresh water springs.
The village, popularly known as the gateway of Dodpathri tourist resort, which attracts thousands of tourists from across the country, is in shambles, courtesy official impunity.
Situated on the bank of Nalah Sukhnag, some two hours from Srinagar city, the village presents visitors a quaint, even eccentric view but unfortunately lacks all basic amenities, including potable water.
Roads here are uncarpeted, bumpy and dilapidated. “The roads leading to the tourist resort were macadamized but, with the passage of time, they have now turned out to be bumpy and stony,” Malik Tanveer, a school teacher, said.
“The inner lanes and roads were never macadamized, and a small downpour makes them muddy and inundated,” he added.
The village, residents said, has no sanitation facility. “No infrastructure necessary for any picturesque village was put in place, so it remains without any information centre, community centre or even a park,” Shabir Bhat, a local, added.
“We live in the Stone Age as there is no road or any health infrastructure in our village. We usually take patients on our shoulders, and sometimes patients die on the way,” rued a school student who identified himself as Adil Shah.
In this village, made famous by the ‘Gateway to Dodpathri’ tag, people alleged that even the works under the centrally sponsored Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) were still pending since decades.
“The works that were supposed to have been done through the MGNREGA have not been taken up. Instead of going for full-fledged sanitation, the authorities have forced people to construct makeshift lavatories on the banks of the village stream,” a resident said.
His words were borne out by the sight of the lavatory points on the banks of the fast-flowing stream into which the residue and solid waste coming out of shops and homes is dumped, rendering the water unusable.
A shopkeeper named Bashir Ahmad said that the residents were “forced to construct the lavatory points at the banks of the stream because [they] have no option.
“Crores are being spent every year in the name of SBM [Swachh Bharat Mission], but to no avail. Not even a single lavatory point has been constructed here. So we relieve ourselves on the banks,” he added.
Similarly, as the villagers are left craving for potable water, the electricity supply is erratic.
“Our women folk have to walk several miles to fetch water as there is no proper water supply, despite the area being known for fresh water springs,” said Waqar, a local.
He said that the consumption of filthy water has been the cause of several water-borne diseases in the area. “The electricity hardly lights our homes, and there are times when our village reels under complete darkness for several days,” Saima Bashir, another local, said. “We don’t even have a medical dispensary. Even though a sub-health centre was created in the village a few years ago, it has never opened. Even immunization is not being done here,” she alleged.
Besides this, the villagers alleged that two main bridges that used to link the village to other areas were swept away in flash floods decades ago and have awaited reconstruction ever since.
Deputy Commissioner Budgam Dr Syed Sehrish Asgar could not be contacted for comments.