SHOPIAN: Water scarcity in Chotipora and adjoining localities in Sedow belt has been a long-pending problem for this farflung area of district Shopian. The water supply scheme for the area is merely a network of pipelines without any reservoir; water from the Rambiara rivulet is being supplied directly to the area.
Not only in the winters, the area often witnesses water crises even in spring and summer. A group of villagers from Chotipora, which comprises around 250 households, said that they have always been ignored by the government and that no scheme was ever initiated for the area. “We face immense problems in terms of potable water. On the one hand, we men folk leave our homes to earn for two times of meals for our families; on the other side, as soon as we leave, our women start fetching water from a faraway canal that contains contaminated water, which results in the outbreak of diseases,” said Sartaj Ahmad, a labourer from the village demanding sanction of a water supply scheme.
Inhabitants from the area told Kashmir Reader that most of the people living in the area are economically backward and there is no influential political leader or bureaucrat to address their problem. “Our repeated demonstrations and requests to the higher authorities for the redressal of our problem has turned into a nightmare for us; we are fed up now with the repeated visits to the district-level officials,” said local resident Javeed Ahmad Tantray.
Locals said that as many as half-a-dozen localities, including Chotipora, Saidpora and many tribal areas, are dependent on this water supply scheme. “In this harsh and freezing winter, we suffer the worst. Our feet and hands are numbed while walking the mountain pass to fetch drinking water,” Jabeena Akhter, a housewife from Saidpora, said while pleading to the authorities to solve their decades-long problem.
Numberdar, Saidpora village, Ghulam Mohiudin Kutay told Kashmir Reader that there is no door of the district administration on which they haven’t knocked for the solution of their problem, but they return heartbroken every time as the officials turn a deaf ear to their grievances. ” Recently, around 1,000 locals restored the water supply by ourselves for a couple of days, but the pipelines again sustained some snag later. The officals of the PHE are watching all this as mute spectators,” he said, adding that more than a kilometre of pipeline is uncovered, often resulting in the freezing of pipelines. “In summers, the lines develop blockages, and we are always forced to get water from a faraway stream.”
Executive Engineer, Public Health Engineering, Shopian, Nisar Ahmad Shah told Kashmir Reader that he had recently visited the area and that PMGSY workers had damaged the pipelines while working on the construction of a lane.
On the sanctioning of water supply scheme, including a reservoir and filtration plant, he said, “I will put in a proposal and will write to the higher authorities for approval of funds.”
Shah added that till alternatives are made available, he has directed the officials not to let PMGSY resume work on lanes that had damaged the pipelines.