“BACK TO MY VILLAGE”
Carefully crafted political move or a game-changer initiative
By: ABID RASHID BABA
The weeklong community mobilization program is over. Citizens apprised the officials of the problems they are facing. The response to this ambitious project reposed faith in the civil administration. Grievances have been scripted on papers. None of them have been addressed so far. Especially designed for the strife-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir, back to village is a path-breaking step if implemented in letter and spirit. Delhi borrowed this idea from china’s Mao Zedong. Will it help in streamlining the developmental schemes? How effective will it be is a question people ask on streets. Here, I narrate the story of my village which is plagued with problems.
On June 21, the nodal officer who was assigned to conduct the proceedings started the programme on an interesting note. “Thirsty crow dropped pebbles in the pot and quenched its thirst but our government has a thirst to know your grievances and address them on priority.” Clock ticked 10 am when the mandatory photograph was uploaded on the website. The hall of the government Middle school was jam-packed and the villagers were all ears to the officer. Wondering why Panchayat was not chosen as the venue? Our Panchayat building is a heap of debris. Block Development officer Wagoora failed to clear the mess despite repeated assurances. It was an embarrassing moment for Tehsildar Kreeri when the officer was told that he operates from a nearby Panchayat building. There is no Tehsil office.
Forty-two students are enrolled in the said government school. Without compound wall, fencing, playground, the school is facing encroachment now. Boys come here for gossip and evening smoke. There is no night chowkidar for the protection and safety of the buildings. Amusement park on a hilltop where we used to graze our livestock was sanctioned. The hill was bulldozed which erodes the land and even a slight drizzle drains the muck downwards which inundates the school beneath it. Government High School was upgraded to higher secondary status 12 years ago. Not even a single classroom was built since then.
Wooden poles were erected in 1974 to supply electricity to our village. 45 years later, we have four transformers (250 &100 Kilovolt-Ampere). Twenty six polls (both HT and LT) are still required. Three years ago, electric poles were erected along Athoora-Saloosa road sans cemented base. These poles may prove fatal at Kohinoor colony due to fragile plinth. Our pleas continue to fall on deaf ears. Water supplied to us is sourced from Shranz Fall (Salaam-deedaar). But when the officials from PHE were asked why filtered water is not supplied, they pursed their lips.
Heavy rainfall invites contaminated water. Reservoir has capacity of 90 thousand gallons. We learnt that there are three public posts, 81 registered and 50 illegal water connections in our village. Livestock is a greatest asset. There is no building for Animal Husbandry department, no veterinary, and no agriculture or horticulture office. Nearly 5,000 people live in our Panchayat halqa and there is not even one Primary Health Center. Why are poor made to suffer? Irrigation department demarcated the Khalri canal for dredging but never came back to start the work despite the District Executive’s order. Nobody knows why? There is a dire need of a public library.
Our Sarkaar claims that hum nein sadko’n ka jaal bichaya howa hai. Where is the net? Authoora-Thindma road has become a head-ache now. Road-widening under PMGSY is in progress with snail’s pace. This road should have been the priority since it connects us to Degree College Thindma but commuters continue to face immeasurable inconvenience. Well-maintained roads seem a distant dream. Mini-buses plying on the route billow clouds of dust. Potholes irk beyond bearing. The growing demand for SRTC bus is gaining momentum. Students are left with no option but to board over-crowded mini-buses.
The only playground has been badly politicized. A decade back, it was a bustling place. Why this playground looks bushy plus deserted perturbs he budding sportsmen. Till date, no retaining wall has been constructed for the road leading towards the ground. There is no ATM or public convenience in my village. It is a digital era but we continue to travel one or two miles to withdraw money. ATM booth at Authoora branch of the JK Grameen bank is a long-pending demand.
Block office Wagoora constructed a big dustbin near 4-way chowk. It stinks and the stench is nauseating for the neighborhood. In the current fiscal, block office intends to do renovation of yaarbal, naarkul, badihar road and dugwells at tulienar. We hope Governor Sahib can do what successive regimes failed to. Villagers vote for these basic rights. I request the Hon’ble Governor Shri Satya Pal Malik to kindly monitor the progress and tell us how much has been translated into practical. Centre must focus on faster services delivery mechanism in rural areas. If village woes are not redressed through this programme, then, it will be akin to failed Sadhbhavna scheme.
“Back to village” was perhaps the first gram-sabha in which the community was involved. We must not let the selected village-heads, panchs or sarpanchs hijack it. It is a laudable step. It is a movement. The first-of-its-kind program is a noble initiative. The aim is to get the correct understanding of developmental shortfalls. This governance at grassroots was the first ever weeklong govt-public interface programme. At a time, when piles of files are gathering dust in the secretariat, will this programme be a success? Will it awake the lethargic administration from the deep slumber or is it just another time-buying exercise?
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org