‘Only 15 JCBs to clear 15,000 lanes; will name and shame officials sitting on papers’
Srinagar: Sheema Farooq, five months pregnant, developed major pain in her back and lower abdomen on Wednesday. She called her doctor, who said she should immediately visit a hospital.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to go to the hospital due to the snow in our lane,” Sheema, a resident of Bemina, told Kashmir Reader. “We tried a lot but nothing happened. We were not able to take out our vehicle, so we again called our doctor and told about the situation. She then prescribed a tablet and asked us to visit the hospital next morning.”
The next morning, too, the situation was the same. “We had to walk to reach the main road. If, God forbid, something had happened, who would have been responsible? It has been more than two days since the snowfall stopped but most lanes are still blocked with snow,” she said.
“It is not for the first time that there has been snowfall but such a callous approach was not seen in the past,” she added. “The government has abandoned people.”
Apart from medical emergency, people in Srinagar were also not able to buy essentials.
“We are not even getting milk and vegetable supplies as the milkmen and vendors are unable to drive their vehicles,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident of Rainawari.
Many auto-rickshaw drivers have not been able to earn a penny since the snowfall began on Sunday.
“It is now the fourth day since I have not earned anything. I tried a lot but failed to move my rickshaw. Not a single person from the administration come forward to clear the snow in the lanes and bylanes of Srinagar city,” said Nazir Ahmed, a resident of Zoonmar.
Mayor of Srinagar, Junaid Azim Mattu, on Thursday said that 15 JCBs and loaders are the only equipment the city has to clear 15,000 lanes of snow.
“It is embarrassing to see the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) men clearing snow with shovels,” Mattu said while addressing a news conference at his office. He also said that the SMC and two other departments tasked with clearing the roads of snow could have done better.
Mattu urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to ascertain why the situation turned ugly on the ground following heavy snowfall. “I respect LG as he believes in delivering. I will also write a letter to him to ascertain why it took so long to clear the snow on roads,” he said.
He said the work done by the three departments –Mechanical Engineering department, Roads and Building department, and the SMC – could have been better.
However, he said, as far as the SMC was concerned, the corporation had only 15 JCBs and loaders to deal with the situation after snowfall. “It is unfortunate that 15 JCBs and loaders are supposed to clear 15,000 lanes across Srinagar,” he said.
Commending the SMC men for doing a tough job on the ground, Mattu said, “It is embarrassing to see the SMC men clearing roads with shovels. Soon after I assumed charge as Mayor, I asked for the procurement of 25 snow clearance machines, but unfortunately I don’t know why the machines were not procured despite having sufficient funds available,” he said.
He added that had the machines been procured, the SMC would have been able to clear the snow within 24 hours across Srinagar.
“Srinagar, the face of Jammu and Kashmir, has been neglected for the past 40 years. But as long as I am here as Mayor, I will push for systemic reforms in SMC,” he said.
“It is a bitter truth that the corporation is ill equipped. A few hammers, shovels, JCBs and loaders are the only equipment corporation has,” he said, adding that there is a need to go beyond brooms and handcarts.
“I will push for the procurement of machines yet again and will name and shame those officials who are sitting on the papers for no reasons,” he added.