Anantnag: People in dozens of villages in Kulgam district who depended on fresh springs for their daily water needs have been collecting thaw, which is mostly contaminated and not fit for human consumption, as the water has frozen in the severe cold. The situation has worsened because many water supply schemes in Kulgam district are either defunct or the authorities have been taking too long to complete these projects.
Kashmir Reader talked to people from many villages in Kulgam district, particularly the women, who rue that their day is gone in melting and storing water from the thaw amid the bone-chilling cold.
“We do not have any other source of drinking water. We depend heavily on the springs, which have frozen now or are covered with snow. It takes us hours to collect thaw and store it,” Shameema Akhtar, a resident of Khur Batpora village in Kulgam district, told Kashmir Reader.
The women said that they are forced to consume this contaminated water because they do not have any other source of water at their disposal. “Every now and then the government announces the sanctioning of one water supply scheme or the other. But no one ever bothers to look back and see whether these schemes have been completed or not. Meanwhile people continue to suffer,” Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Pahloo area in the district, said.
Ahmad said that the residents in his area were looking forward to the completion of much hyped Pahloo-Kelam water supply scheme, “which is still incomplete even after 15 years of getting sanctioned,” Ahmad said.
The residents of some other villages like Buchroo, Brazloo, Gopalpora, Adijan, Manzgam, Tangmarg, Bolsoo, Kandweni and others have similar tales to tell.
“There are a number of water supply schemes that are defunct and in this harsh weather we are forced to collect thaw and drink it. It is inhuman on the part of the administration,” Abdul Rasheed, a resident of Adijan village, told Kashmir Reader.
Sources in the Jal Shakti department told Kashmir Reader that many schemes have been inaugurated and then abandoned in Kulgam district. “Wumberkal-Damhal and Matibugh-Yaripora are just two examples. The two filtration plants were inaugurated almost a decade ago but are yet to be made functional,” the sources said.
They added that the Supar-Danew and Sudroo-Tantraypora are two other schemes that were inaugurated more than 9 years ago and are yet to be made functional. “These are not the only schemes, there are many others and the only people bearing the brunt of this negligence are the poor villagers, who are forced to consume contaminated, unfiltered water,” the sources said.
Kashmir Reader tried to talk to Mushtaq Qazi, the Executive Engineer of Jal Shakti department in Kulgam. His phone however was not working.
Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, Showkat Ahmad, maintained that everything was fine. “We have around 155 schemes and only five to six of them are partially defunct. The rest of them are working,” the DC said.
He added that the frozen pipes might be a reason of water supply being cut in certain areas.
“We will see if some areas are facing issues. They will be sorted out,” the DC said.