The Holy Ramadhan And The Thirsty Villages Of North Kashmir

4 mins read
Photo:M Haris

M Haris Ganai

Photo:M Haris
Photo:M Haris Ganai

It is the month of fasting for Muslims, the heat is scorching and thanks to the official inaction thousands of people in dozens of villages of north Kashmir are craving for the drop of drinking water to quench their thirst.

The scarcity of water in dozens of areas has prompted protests at so many places so far but fails to bring the attention of government.

The protesters in last few days in Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara have blocked road at number of places to press for their demand and restricted the movement of traffic.

People of various areas of the trio districts allege that they are facing grave hardships in the holy month of Ramdhan due to shortage of drinking water and are forced to drink contaminated water of river Jehlum, canals and streams posing severe threats of water borne diseases among the common people.

In one of the instances about the failure of Public Health Engineering Department, a long queue of woman and men could be seen fetching water from river Jehlum at Delina Baramulla- a village, merely 5 km away from district headquarter Baramulla.

“There is no drinking water in our village and we are forced to drink contaminated water of canals and river posing severe danger about the outbreak of water borne diseases ,” rues Fazi Begum of Delina, “so we are forced to come on roads.”

“Even in the month of holy Ramadan, our water taps are running dry,” she adds. Mohammed Rafi, 35, of Khanpora laments: “Government has failed to provide us the basic necessities like water in this 21 ist century. We have never seen safe drinking water via taps. If at all it comes it is contaminated and stinking.   Despites umpteen pleas to the concern department nothing has been done to redress our problem.”

The women of the Doolgund in Rafiabad allege that in both summer and winter their life has become hellish due to shortage of water.

“We have to walk 3 to 4 kilometres to get water from the canal which consumes whole day in the process. Government has many times promised us schemes for drinking water but we saw nothing happening practically,” Raja Begum of the village says to The Legitimate.

She says that there are almost 200 odd families in village. From dawn to dusk women of this village are busy in fetching water from the canal as nobody listens to their plight.

The acute water scarcity in these areas has become usual phenomena as authorities are listless. There is water supply scheme from Laser village but the water is contaminated and hardly reaches them. Similar is the story in apple town Sopore where thousands of people living in Arampora, Hajam Mohalla, Chankipora of Sopore town cry for drinking water. The acute water scarcity in these areas has become usual phenomena as authorities are unmoved.   Hundreds of women of these localities jostle when a single water tanker reaches to their localities from PHE department here that too sometimes after many days.

“Our life has become very difficult as there is no water in our homes. We fight our turn to get water from a single tanker which sometimes comes after days.  The concern department just sends a tanker which proves insufficient for thousands of souls,” said Atika Begum of Arampora Sopore, who sustained injuries while getting water from the tanker.

People of Ferozpora Rafiabad drink contaminated water of paddy fields as there is no drinking water in area and government launched a water supply scheme some eight years back but it never worked.

“There is no drinking water in our village and we are pleading government for a long time for pure drinking water facility which fails to reach to the ears of the concerned authorities,” says Nazir Ahmed, local resident of Ferozpora, Rafiabad.

The other worst hit areas are main town Baramull, Kanlibangh Baramulla,Khanpora, Kadinayar, Kuntur, Sheeri Narwave, Badmulla, Gulshan Colony, Drangbal etc.

 The water supply to the Kansipora villages is also highly contaminated and poses potential threat of water borne diseases.

A delegation of Binner Janabazpora Baramulla and Sheeri Baramulla told The Legitimate that their area is reeling under grave drinking water scarcity and people are left high and dry. There is no water and people are waiting for even a single drop”

People of Hajibal Baramulla are also facing shortage of drinking water and people here are forced to drink the contaminated water which resulted into the outbreak of some water borne diseases in past.

Abdul Rehman Bukhari of Hajibal says, “Our village being a remote and deprived of basic facilities is not having any proper arrangement of drinking water. We are appealing Chief Minster Mehbooba Mufti to pay immediate attention towards the water crisis.”

Another delegation from Sheeri Narwave area which comprises of forty village complained acute shortage of water in the area. Nazir Ahmed Dar of Sheeri Barmaulla claims, “Water taps in their village have dried up and people are forced to drink contaminated water of the wells and ponds.”

Elsewhere also the situation is no different. In Bandipora district, scores of localities are facing acute drinking water shortage, and are blaming the Public Health Engineering (PHE) authorities for their failure to provide drinking water to the people.

For instance, the areas like  Ashtengo, Alsoosa, Watpora, Kaloosa, Quil, Malangam, Khenusa,   Niberpora, Papchan are the “worst sufferers” due to non availability of drinking-water, local residents say.

And interestingly people from other areas too think their problems are far worse and grave than all others.

 “There is not a single drop of water in our homes and the authorities seem to be enjoying their time in their air-conditioned offices,” Bashir Ahmed laments, adding, “Not even the PHE’s local field staff have bothered to come here.”

Given that it is the holy month of Ramdhan in Valley, water-shortage at this point of time is giving a real tough time to the people. In Handwara and Kupwara protests broke out at several places against the shortage of drinking water during last week.

“Kashmir is famous for its water resources and the irony is that Kashmiris are craving for drops to drink,” Abdul Qayoom, a resident of Kupwara town says.

“This is for the first time since I have shifted here that we are facing severe water crisis. Chief Minister should herself look into this matter.”

The most affected areas are Qauilgam,Nagri,Natnusa Kandi,Batpora, Prohopand, Yunsu, Handishart,Karlgund and other adjoining villages.

A top PHE official in Baramulla wishing not to be named says that in summer water scarcity is common as the sources are drying up.

“Water sources such as streams, rivers and recoveries normally dry in summers where from we lift it for the local populace due to high temperature and result in water shortage. However, we have geared up our department to look into the crises as sustaining measures.” However, concern officials of the Bandipora and Kupwara districts couldn’t be reached despite repeated attempts.

The story first appeared in print edition of June 22

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