Man stages solo protest to demand all-weather road for remote Marwah
Jammu: Carrying a placard containing various demands and keeping his eyes blindfolded, a social activist from remote Marwah in Kishtwar district stood in protest for several hours here to press for all-weather road connectivity and power supply for the area.
Rouf-ul-Islam had covered nearly 250 kilometres from his home to Jammu to highlight the problems being faced by the residents of the Marwah sub-division comprising three tehsils of Marwah, Dechhan and Warwan which remain cut off for over six months annually owing to heavy snowfall during winter.
“My only purpose for the protest is to invite the attention of the government including Union minister Nitin Gadkari and our Member Parliament Jitendra Singh to mitigate our sufferings due to the lack of all-weather road connectivity,” he said.
Marwah is connected to south Kashmir’s Anantnag district through Margan pass road which, however, remains open only for a couple of months during summer.
“Our sub-division has no roads, no electricity and no telecommunication…We are living in abject poverty. Many a times over the years, we raised our plight with the concerned quarters and many a times surveys were conducted for ensuring all-weather road connectivity but nothing was done till date,” Islam said.
Claiming that a tunnel of about five kilometers from Chhatroo to Marwah can provide an all-weather road by connecting the sub-division with Kishtwar district headquarters, the social activist said they were hopeful of getting the tunnel during the recent visit of Gadkari, the Union Minister for Roads and Highways, but were left disappointed with no mention of any project for them.
Gadkari visited Doda district on November 24 and laid the foundation of 25 national highway projects worth Rs 11,721 crore besides sanctioning six more road projects for Jammu and one project for Kashmir on the demand of the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
The newly included road projects are Kathua-Basholi-Bani-Bhaderwah-Doda (170 km), Doda-Bhaderwah-Chamba (Himachal) Road (132 km), Dayalachak-Challan-Billwar-Mahanpur-Basohli Road (118 km), Tawi bridge-Jammu airport-MIran Sahib-R S Pura Suchetgarh (29 km), Surankote-Bafliaz-Shopian-Srinagar (145 km), Atholi (Kishtwar)-Machail-Zanskar (Kargil) road, Narabal-Tangmarg-Gulmarg-Baramulla road (70 km).
“We welcome the new roads announced by the Union minister but we fail to understand why we are being met with step-motherly treatment. Our region has a huge tourism potential, which if tapped fully, can give a big boost to the economy of the Jammu region,” the social activist said.
Islam, who was carrying a black flag as a mark of protest, said he has blindfolded himself with the black cloth to highlight the “darkness” in the lives of the people living in his area.
“We are living in darkness and lacking basic facilities like electricity, health infrastructure, telecommunication and internet. We have to walk for two days to reach the district headquarters and in such a scenario, we see the future of our children bleak,” he said.
District Development Council (DDC) chairperson, Kishtwar, Pooja Thakur also advocated for fulfillment of the long-pending demand for construction of Chhatroo tunnel to provide all-weather road connectivity to the people of the Marwah sub-division.
Thakur raised the demand in a memorandum submitted to Minister Gadkari during his visit, and also sought sanction for construction of 20 other roads to connect backward areas of the district.
Prominent social activist R K Thakur said Marwah is a picturesque area bordering south Kashmir’s Anantnag and passes through densely forested area.
“The road construction is not possible due to lack of forest clearance. However, a tunnel to connect Chhattroo with Marwah is a possibility and was proposed a long back which needs to be revisited for the benefit of the local residents,” he said.