Shopian: Three major water supply schemes in Shopian are languishing for years while hundreds of households in three different areas of the district continue to face drinking water scarcity.
Locals from Kashev village, which has about 250 households, in Chitragam Tehsil, said that some eight years ago, work on a water supply scheme was started, after which the public health engineering department (PHE) raised a tank, a couple of rooms, and a well. However, since then they have not seen any water from the project.
“They didn’t lay pipelines towards our village and left us without any water supply, that too after spending lakhs of rupees on the scheme,” said Shahid Ahmad, a local.
Ali Muhammad Bhat, who gave more than a kanal of his land for the construction of the scheme on the promise of a government job for his kin, said that he wants his land back as neither the authorities have started the scheme nor have they provided his kin a government job in exchange for the land.
“We could have grown apple worth lakhs on the land that they have occupied,” he said.
Similarly, villagers of Manihal, Batpora and Chottipora, which together comprise over 550 households, said that the water supply scheme for the area was approved during the BJP-PDP coalition government, but was never completed.
They said that in 2019 work on the project was stopped due to unknown reasons. Villagers said that on enquiring about the reasons, they came to know that funds meant for the scheme had been used on other schemes.
“We don’t know whether the funds were even used on other schemes or pocketed by the officials. The estimated cost of the project was approximately Rs 1.8 crore and now, when only half the work is done, there is need of Rs 60 lakh more. We want to know where the rest of the funds went,” said Mohammad Ishaq, a local resident.
Ishaq added that recently when villagers brought the issue to the notice of the deputy commissioner, he released Rs 6 lakh, which is too little compared to the funds needed to complete the scheme.
Locals said that they have no tap water supply as there isn’t any such scheme which could provide them drinking water facility. They said that there are some wells dug by the locals from where the whole village is forced to fetch water.
Some 10 kilometers from Manihal, the villagers of Durpora share the same fate. Locals here said that the village has more than 200 households, all of which face water scarcity, but the authorities are unmoved.
Sabzar Ahmad, a local, said that the government has approved a scheme to solve the drinking water problems faced by the village, but work is yet to start on it.
Executive Engineer at the Jal Shakti department (formerly Public Health Engineering department), Irfan ul Islam, told Kashmir Reader that the Manihal scheme need more funds. “There is cost escalation and it needs more funds, for which I have written to the chief engineer,” he said, adding that the Durpora water supply scheme is going through tendering process. He said he was not aware of the details of the Kashev water supply scheme.
When told that people are making allegations that officials have pocketed the funds of the Manihal scheme, he said that his office has received no such complaint.