Pulwama: A huge area comprising hundreds of households in Sangerwani belt of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district has been denied access to potable drinking water supplies since 1947, resulting in huge inconvenience to its inhabitants.
Villagers from Inderwal belt of the Sangarwani area of the district told Kashmir Reader that they were facing huge problems but being a hilly and farflung area, their repeated demonstrations were ignored by the authorities. Since they have no access to any political or bureaucratic influence, they are always ignored, the villagers said.
Inderwal is a far flung, tribal, hilly area, situated some 30 kilometres from the Pulwama district headquarters. “There are very few tap connections in our area and those too are being supplied with dirty stream water, which often results in the outbreak of diseases here, particularly among children,” said Muhammad Zaman Khan, a local resident.
Another resident said that after being supplied with “poisonous” water, they do not even have any road connectivity by which to take a patient to hospital elsewhere. They have no option but to use wooden stretches for attendants to carry patients over more than six kilometres on foot to reach a road where they can get a vehicle. “Not once or twice, we have brought the issue of our water crisis to the notice of the higher authorities a thousand times, but what the officals did in return was, they put our requests in dustbins,” Jameel Ahmad, another resident, said.
Villagers said that during the recent snowfall, the path leading to a stream nearby was blocked with snow that they were forced to melt to end their thirst. They said that work on one of the water supply schemes proposed for their area is going at a snail’s pace. “We are waiting for completion of this scheme since years, but it has now turned into a nightmare for us as it is a matter of fact that no high-rank offical from Pulwama district adminstration takes stock of the work on this scheme,” Jahangir Ali Chichi, another local, said adding that not only the women but men folk too have to spent a day to get water from the stream.
“Our whole day is spent in bringing water and cooking. We have no life other than that,” a housewife from Inderwal said while pleading to the authorities to supply potable water for the area so that the people, mostly ladies, would not suffer any more.
Sheeraz Ahmad, one of the locals, said that they were waiting for the completion of the scheme with great curiosity. “If the scheme would get completed, it would be like the authorities would sanction a district headquarters to our area,” he said while lamenting the role of political leaders who come to them at the time of voting but ignore their demands when they come to power.
The residents of Chichi Mohala, Khan Mohalla, Shah Mohala and adjoining areas of this Sangarwani belt have similar complaints of water crisis, although occasionally the reasons for their water crises are different. Some villagers said they have had no water supply since a month because most of the pipelines in the area are frozen and they too are forced to get water from nearby streams.
Executive Engineer Public Health Engineering, Pulwama, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that work on the water supply project is underway and they have expectations that the same would be completed this year. When asked why this project is taking so much time for completion, he said it does take time. “We even worked till the recent snowfall began; during November, snowfall stopped work only for a week,” he said, adding that the men and machinery are working from dawn to dusk on the project and hopefully the project will be handed over to the public by the end of this year.