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'Border residents rue slow pace of bunker construction

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Jammu: Living on the edge amid consistent shelling and frequently rising Indo-Pak tension, the border village residents near here have been left ruing the snail's pace of bunker building along the LoC and IB.

The government has been able to build less than 1,000 bunkers last year despite sanctioning nearly 15,000 of them.

As per official figures, the Centre approved the construction of 14,460 bunkers in December 2017 at a cost of Rs 415.73 crore for border residents facing consistent Pakistani shelling along the LoC and IB in Jammu division.

While 7,298 bunkers were sanctioned for Rajouri and Poonch districts along the LoC, 7,162 were meant for the residents living along the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.

Yet, only around 900 individual bunkers and 60 community ones have been built in the districts, officials said.

The border village residents Thursday appeared acutely wary and apprehensive of their safety and security amid the intense mortar shelling in the wake of rising Indo-Pak tension.

While the construction of bunkers began along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba last year, it got delayed along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch over cost escalation.

The authorities in two districts have set up dozens of community bunkers at worst-hit shelling prone areas, but the promised individual bunkers will take some time, the officials said.

The two districts have faced rampant ceasefire breaches by Pakistan on daily basis since beginning of the year. Over the past three days of increased hostilities, the people have been left braving the intense shelling with only a few of them having been able to move to safer places.

As per officials, 145 community and individual bunkers in Nowshera and 20 more in Sunderbani area are at different phases of execution.

While 160-square feet individual bunkers are designed to house eight persons, the 800-square feet community bunkers would accommodate 40 people.

The officials said there are plans to build highest number of individual bunkers, totalling 4,918, in Rajouri, which will have 372 community bunkers while Kathua district will have 3,076 individual and 243 community bunkers.

The highest number of community bunkers, totalling 688, would be built along the LoC in Poonch district where the border residents would also be provided with 1,320 individual bunkers, the officials said.

They said Jammu would get 1,200 individual and 120 community bunkers, while 2,515 individual and eight community bunkers would be built in nearby Samba district.

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