Shopian: Even after sanctioning more than two-hundred crore rupees for 36 water supply schemes meant to tackle the menace of contaminated drinking water in this south Kashmir district, the majority of its population continues to face this years-old problem. The contaminated water according to locals is adding to their woes amid the Covid-19 pandemic when people have been advised to avoid visiting hospital OPDs.
Experts and environmentalists say that since the reconstruction of the so-called historical Mughal Road, most of the district areas which have the Rambiara rivulet as source of drinking water are facing this water crisis.
Locals say that the road was not constructed on scientific lines. “They dumped the waste and cut the mountains on the banks of the rivulet. In most areas they didn’t raise fences/bunds so that the soil would not come into the river,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a wildlife expert.
The contaminated water problem in the district, according to locals, is faced the whole year round, but especially with the advent of summer when snow starts melting and brings with it soil, sand and mud into the rivulet. The rains do the same.
The areas which face this water problems include Tehsils like Imamsahib, Chitragam, Shopian, Zainpora, Keegam and other adjoining areas.
Junaid Gulzar, a local from Imamsahib, told Kashmir Reader that they fail to understand what kind of water the authorities are supplying to the villages. “The water supplied by PHE department isn’t in a condition even to use it for bath. To drink it seems like one is consuming a glass of mud,” he said.
Gulzar added that the department has installed two water supply pipes in Sanglo stream which contains all the wastes of the town area, including polythene, and that even toilets are installed on its banks.
All this is happening during a pandemic and two years after an epidemic of hepatitis infected over six-hundred people in Vehil area of Shopian for which contaminated water was among the main reasons.
Locals from Shopian town said that many governments came and disappeared but their problems remained the same.
Irfan ul Islam, executive engineer Jal Shakti department, told Kashmir Reader that Rs 209 crores have been sanctioned by the government and the department has floated tenders for 36 water supplies schemes twice but there has been no response from the contracting agencies.
“Our main concern is to meet the challanges of contaminated water and we hope it will be met this year,” he said.