Mushtaq Hurra

Access to aqua pura ensures right to life

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Right to life under article 21 of Indian constitution is a fundamental right. And easy access to safe drinking water is a prerequisite of right to live. But, ironically, a big chunk of Indian populace has no access to safe and pure drinking water. According to reports, India annually spends 600 million US dollars to treat people suffering from different water borne diseases. Thus, it drains off the country economically as well.

The scenario is not too different in Kashmir valley. Different villages here also are going through the same predicament though our governments at different levels are  boasting big of development and the availability of basic amenities to the citizens of the country. Official narratives contradict the reality on the ground. People entitled to different rights have been subjected to injustice and unfair treatment. Depriving citizens of their fundamental rights is the desecration of constitution and its sanctity.

My own village called Poshwari is a victim of the official apathy. The village is not too far away from summer capital viz Srinagar. It is a small village of tehsil Sonawari, situated on both sides of Naidkhai-Srinagar road, and just 25 kms away from Srinagar. Hence, it is not a far-flung or inaccessible area. The village is just 2 kms away from the river Jehlum and at a distance of some 8 to 9 kms from famed Mansbal lake which provides safe drinking water to many areas of tehsil Sonawari.

No doubt, an overhead tank and a reservoir have been constructed at the outskirts of my village some two decades ago but the water supplied is too impure and dirty for human consumption. Who is not aware about the biological and chemical contamination of river Jehlum’s water. Srinagar city’s domestic sewage including some industrial and medical waste is straight away drained into the river leaving it unsafe for human use. The raw water supplied to my villagers has exposed our lives to different deadly diseases. Overhead tank of our water supply scheme is adding insult to our injury. The tank is abode to thousands of pigeons which add big quantities of avian excreta into the water, leaving it dangerous and hazardous for consumption. Many a times, the natives of my village have removed dead pigeons from pipes when a clog would obstruct the flow of water. The work on filtration plant is lingering from last twelve years or so. The residents of this village are facing the pangs of official callousness and insensitivity.

People living here are going through difficult times. Different water borne diseases have taken toll on our health. Typhoid, diarrhea, jaundice and other diseases have become our fate.  Successive regimes have left us at the mercy of God so has the incumbent Lt Governor administration.

Some affluent families of the village had managed to install sophisticated water purifiers but the sediment level present in the water is so high that these advanced scientific gadgets refuse to work merely after a month or two of their installation. Even every commoner can’t afford a water purifier. It is mandatory for governments to provide safe and pure drinking water to its citizens.

Would my readers believe that our women cover long distances to fetch a pale of pure drinking water from the neighboring village which is some two kms away from here. Even a good number of men of the village are seen pulling and pushing handcarts carrying drinking water from neighbouring areas. Though the country is free from slavery of colonialism but we are still in chains of official callousness and impotence.

The story doesn’t end here. Here is the twist in the tale. Some two months ago, a young man from our village approached SDM Sumbal with an application for tanker service. The said officer proved kind and compassionate enough to sanction the same in our favour. He immediately ordered the tanker service for our village. And it was not lesser than a sigh of relief for the dejected villagers. But, it proved a nine days wonder for us. The tanker service has been stopped some three weeks ago. We request SDM Sumbal and DC Bandipora to look into the matter and intervene personally. Hope the concerned department will expedite the construction work on our filtration plant, and the incumbent district administration will resume the tanker service for us, as soon as possible.

–       The writer is a teacher and can be reached at [email protected]

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