Sopore town which is popularly known as the ‘Apple Town’ was also once called as ‘Chotta London’, being the business hub of North Kashmir. But this town is now one of the most neglected town of the Kashmir region, thanks to the administration’s apathy.
Sopore has produced great personalities in the field of Education, Art, Literature, Politics and so on. Many eminent doctors and educationists ,who are now settled in Srinagar or abroad , belong to this heritage rich town. The people of Sopore were called as Zinda-Dilani Sopore – (People with a pulsating heart). But due to apathy and negligence o the administration, the town is now in shambles. Sopore was also famous for three R’s – which stand for Radee, Rabb, Rupyi (carts, wet mud and money).Though first two R’s are still abundantly available in town but the 3rd R , that is money has gone down due to many reasons.
Sopore was also famous for the famed and prominent families– Anim, Bulla and Trumboo, most of who are settled in Srinagar now.
Sopore has also produced some religious scholars such as Maulana Mufti Noordudin, Maam Saeb (Gh. Mohd Kirmani),Molvi Ghulam Hassan, Molvi Bashirudin Qasmi, Maulana Ghulam Mohd Makhdoomi and so on. The district has also been famous for its Sufi Saints like Ahad Bab, Lasse Bab, Habib Joo Rawa, Ama Joo Guknoo and Raje Moaj.
Presently the town is facing multiple crises. Bad and congested roads are the biggest problem in the town at present. These are same as decades ago but the traffic has increased many fold. Seeing a traffic cop on duty to streamline the traffic in Sopore town is a pipe dream. Worst hit areas include Main Chowk, Iqbal Market, General Bus stand, Police Station, Shah Faisal Market. Once stuck in a traffic jam it can take hours to come out of it at places like Hathishah and Bandipora road (near Chinkipora).There is not a single parking lot in the whole town. Shoppers are left with no option but to leave their vehicles in front of their shops or in small lanes adding to the miseries of the commuters. Road encroachment by shopkeepers and roadside vendors adds more inconvenience to the general public. Persons on foot hardly get a space to move.
Age old tongas create traffic jams and also make the town more unhygienic with horse dung. There is no concept of zebra crossing and signals in the town. There are no street lights on the major crossings or roads. Old lights if any are all defunct.
Thieves are on prowl in the town. Everyday there is some news of burglary in the town and police has completely failed to curb this menace. Traders often allege that police is not taking this issue seriously. Same is the story of drug dealers. Every now and then some drug dealers are caught with drugs or banned medicines. But there has been no concrete plan by authorities to eradicate the drug menace in the town.
Bypass bridge that was completed in a period of 25 years is finally functional but the condition of the bridge is so poor that it has become a nuisance for the travelers. Moreover the traffic mess is horrible at Fruit Mandi and Noorbagh crossing.
Power scenario in town is inadequate and unscheduled. Even metered areas have frequent power cuts even in summers. And during winters there is no difference between metered and non metered areas as both suffer badly. Drinking water scarcity is almost in all the colonies of the town. Even if some areas are getting drinking water as per schedule, the water seems to be completely without proper filtration.
One can notice huge heaps of garbage in main markets and roads as there is no particular place for dumping the garbage. This makes the roads and streets stinky and the commuters have to suffer. Same is the case of the drainage system in most of the colonies and water logging is a big issue for the residents. Historic Zaingeer canal is dying a silent death. It’s all filled up with filth and garbage and the concerned irrigation department is turning a blind eye towards it. It is a major source of irrigation for the agricultural land in the town but now it is serving the purpose of a sanitation drainage canal. The general public is left with no option but to urinate on roads and streets adding to the unhygienic state of the town.
The growing stray dog population is one more menace in this unfortunate town. Parents are afraid to let their kids roam outside homes or in streets due to these stray dogs. A number of dog bite cases have been registered in SDH Sopore till now and Sopore MC is least bothered about this issue.
There is no public park, Library or a children’s park in town. The only sports stadium in Sopore is also in shambles. Youth have very less opportunities for outdoor recreational activities.
Fruit Mandi Sopore is the Asia’s second largest fruit Mandi but it lacks the basic facilities and is underdeveloped. There is no proper parking for the trucks with the result there is a huge traffic issue on the Mandi road.
Sopore Anjuman-e-Moinul Islam- a strong local body- has failed to prove itself and has not done much for the upliftment of the town. Trade bodies of Sopore have been meeting various concerned officials and were promised many projects and developments but all has been an utter failure on ground.
It is high time for the people of Sopore to unite and fight for their basic rights. May Allah Bless our town Sopore and may our future generations see a developed town!
—The author, a physiotherapist, can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org