While PDP’s Sofi eyes a hat-trick NC again failed to find a local representative for HS Bugh. Shah Abbas visits the place to see how ‘selective development’ and lack of basic facilities hardly figure on people’s mind while voting
The people of Homeshalibugh (HS Bugh) assembly segment in district Kulgam have numerous issues and problems, but those are hardly going to influence voters during the upcoming state elections. They (people) are more concerned about political parties and candidates in the fray than real issues concerning them.
“People struggled for Bijli, Pani and Sadak six decades back and they are still doing the same thing. Nothing has changed,” Mohammad Abdullah, a resident of Yaripora town of the segment told Kashmir Life adding “unionist politicians have been herding us like cattle and the tradition is continuing even now.” Abdullah said that people have developed intimacies with certain political parties and leaders and it is that intimacy which will influence their minds while casting vote.
Most of the people living in Homshalibugh assembly segment are struggling for drinking water and electricity. Dozens of villages have very little amount of it and most of them have now become habitual of the problems related to drinking water and electricity.
“I am 72 and I have been voting all my life for Bijli, Pani Sadak, but it is a sorry state of affairs that we are yet to get one of these three basic facilities in full,” Abdullah, said.
The constituency is named after a small hamlet coming under the jurisdiction of Yaripora Municipal Committee. Yaripora was granted Tehsil status recently when the state government announced the formation of new administrative units.
The main developmental work in HS Bugh during last six years was a new water supply scheme for H S Bugh village. “We used to enjoy water supply for four hours daily when we were getting water from neighbouring Matti Bugh water tank but to our utter surprise after we had our own water tank entirely meant for our village, we get water for only two hours,” Mohammad Yousuf, a resident of HS Bugh told Kashmir Life. He added “We are being charged heavily for water but it seldom reaches inside our houses.”
Same is the case with electricity supply. The department never fails in sending monthly bills to its customers but it hardly bothers to maintain the supply. “We have to pay hefty electric bills without any delay but we often ask ourselves for which we pay every month towards PDD,” Yousuf said.
Tangyan, Brazulo, Damidulla, H S Bugh, Budroo, Mattibugh, Gandebal, Nawbal etc are some of the villages and hamlets in the constituency suffering very badly as for as the drinking water supply is concerned. The habitants of these villages allege that they see leaders or politicians at the time of elections only.
The people of Yaripora have lots of complaints against their sitting MLA, Abdul Gaffar Sofi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They allege that Sofi has practically divided the constituency into two geographical parts comprising of the area from Wanpoh to Bachroo on its north and Bachroo to elsewhere on its south. Sofi hails from Wanpoh area and the people of Yaripora, HS Bugh, Budroo etc allege him of neglecting their areas. Yaripora and Qaimoh were the rival claimers of Tehsil status and finally both the towns were granted, but one without Nayabat.
Go through the map of Homshalibugh constituency one strangely finds almost six villages falling in the middle of it but as parts of assembly segment Kulgam. Kokergund, Kanjikulla, Katepora, Hangalbuch, Munad and Gufan fall in the middle of H S Bugh but are a part of Kulgam assembly segment. Munad, Guffan and Hangalbuch even share their border with Shopian district. The inhabitants of these villages feel odd ones out and they are unable to understand the logic behind this “strange divide”.
“This strange divide is aimed at dividing Jama’at-e-Islami votes,” district president Congress Anayat Ullah Rather told Kashmir Life. Rather is expected candidate of Congress from the constituency. He also contested 2008 elections on the Congress ticket.
H S Bugh comprised of 66,788 voters in 2008. Sofi of PDP won his debut election from this place in 2002. He retained the seat in 2008 by defeating his close rival Abdul Majid Bhat of National Conference by a margin of 4,810 votes. Sofi secured 12249, Bhat 7439 and Anayat Ullah Rather of Congress 5223 votes. There were 13 candidates in fray in 2008 assembly elections including independent Abdul Rahman Malla who secured 3730 votes from an overall polling percentage of 54.36.
People have a mixed response about their sitting MLAs performance during last six years. There are people who have not seen Sofi during last six years and there are areas were people praise his party, PDP. “This is only because people have no choice against National Conference whom they consider responsible for all the political turmoil,” a lawyer of the area told Kashmir Life.
Sources said that Sofi’s main works during last six years include the release of Rs 6.27 lakh from his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for private institutions. They added that he released Rs 1.47 lakh for constructing a wall around an English Medium School Bhan. He also released Rs 2.30 lakh for constructing a wall around Public Middle School Gondbal and Rs 2.30 lakh for fencing near Public School at Redwani Payeen. Sofi also released Rs 1.25 lakh for constructing a latrine near Public School at Wanpora.
But MLA Sofi has a lot to sell which he claims as his achievements during his tenure. Sofi said that every habitation in every populous villages of his constitution there are 3 to 4 middle schools and 900 RT teachers have been appointed only on merit basis.
Sofi claimed that there were only 3 high schools and 1 Hr Secondary School in 2003-04 in HS Bugh but now there are 14 High Schools and 7 Hr Secondary Schools.
He said that 6 new High Schools and 3 Higher Sec schools have been sanctioned.
Sofi further claimed that PHE sector has got a boost during his tenure and many water supply schemes have been started including HS Bugh, water supply scheme with a cost of Rs 265 lakh which according to locals is in shambles. Other water supply schemes which have been established in the constituency include Shuganpora, Guffebal Kwarki Bazar, Redwani Bala with a cost of Rs 269 lakh, Kujar 2 cr, Wanpora 458 lakh, Frisal 475 lakh, Shamsipora, Turke Tachloo, Bote Tachloo, Chekpora Bhan Rs 470 lakh, Kharepora Nowpora, Hasssanpora Tawela under execution, Gundebaba Nyana, Shole Sudsona, Khermane Ganesh Wanpoh, Wanpoh Gashipora, Zradipora Uranhal and Khandi Pahari water supply schemes.
In Irrigation sector which is the backbone of agriculture, Sofi claimed that he has established lift irrigation schemes in Pazalpora Jablipora, Semthan, Chekedara, Natipora, Gundebaba Khalil, Tulkhun, Laktipora Hafizabadad, Rakh-e-Moman, Moman Danji Bala, Wanpora, Gandebal and Tangewoder Yaripora.
Sofi said that it was due to his efforts that Frisal canal from Mattibugh to Moman Dangi was built which irrigates thousands of hectares of horticulture land. Sofi also claimed that the said land saw water supply after 60 long years.
Sarbal Sarbuji nallah was also constructed in recent years which cost Rs 7 cr and the second phase of it is under process. Other major works according to Sofi in this sector included Brazuloo Jagir Lad at the cost of Rs 10 cr.
Yaripora sub district hospital was made functional with a cost of Rs 762 lakh and the revised estimate of it is Rs 10 cr. The SDH building has been made functional while as the work on residential quarters for medical and para medical staff is near completion.
Sofi claimed that SDH Yaripora is the only hospital in South Kashmir with heating and cooling system the work on which is under progress.
Pertinently, after the SDH Yaripora building was completed there were some rumors about it of being unsafe making rounds. But Sofi told Kashmir Life that a team of five members was constituted headed by the secretary in Chief Minister’s Secretariat which submitted its report and declared the building as safe. Sofi said that it was only after the report of the said committee that the hospital was shifted from old premises recently.
Public Health Centre (PHC) building Frisal was also completed in the recent years while as SDH Kaimoh is under construction which will be completed with a cost of Rs 1962 Lakh. In the same way PHC Kujar was made functional during Sofi’s tenure and health buildings in Kadder, Noonmai, Tulinowpora, Bhan, Kujar, Arwani, Gundebaba, Shamsipora, Redwani Bhala have been completed while as in Damidulla it is under construction.
In Power sector, Sofi claimed that the capacity of receiving station Yaipora has been increased from 6.3 Megawatts to 12.6 Megawatts and that of Kaimoh from 10 to 20 Magawatts.
He said that receiving stations have been build at Harnag with a capacity of 12.6 Magawatts, Arwani 6.3 Magawatts and Shamsipora with a capacity of 6.3 Magawatts.
Moreover, more than 500 new transformers were installed in the constituency during Sofi’s tenure while as 60 new transformers were approved with polls and conductors.
Although according to Sofi 6000 new electric polls have been installed in the constituency yet 30 per cent work is to be done in this field. He said that after strong demands of the people, Yaripora receiving station was shifted from Kulgam to Wanpoh grid station. The capacity of Wanpoh grid station has been increased from 70 Megawatts to 125 Megawatts and it will be augmented to 170 Megawatts the work for which is under process and will be completed within two months.
According to official sources the construction and up-gradation work of 5 road projects in H S Bugh constituency is proposed under PMGSY phase-X, and detailed project reports of 24.85 crore have been mooted to the Centre for funds. They said that 15 works have been taken up for execution in the constituency under NABARD and State sector projectization.
They added that construction work on Rs 40 lakh Beam Bridge on Ziarat Sharief Road at Qaimoh has been completed while as construction of Rs 39.08 lakh steel bridge at Mishipora-Adapora road was apace and against which Rs 36 lakh have been spent under special bridge plan. The construction work on RCC Bridge over Vishow Nallah at village Wanpora Shamsipora was taken up under NABARD through JKPCC.
But the roads like Yaripora-Arwani, Yaripora-Kader and Redwani-Frisal are in shambles. “These three roads have been neglected over the years,” Annayat said. He also alleged Sofi of ignoring fruit industry and educational sector of the area.
Sofi of PDP, Annayat of Congress and Abdul Majid of NC are all set to have a close contest later in the year. While PDP has an apparent upper hand NC and Congress candidates are sure to give him a strong fight. The problem NC has in the constituency is that it could not produce a man from within the constituency over the decades who could represent the party rather it has been relying on non constituency subjects. The constituency was represented by NC MLAs like Abdul Salam Deva and Gul Rafiqi for decades together but they belonged to other constituencies. Even now Bhat, who has been provided the party mandate, is a NC man from Larem village of Devsar area.
There is a strong vote bank for Jama’at-e-Islami in HS Bugh which by and large boycotts the polls. “But a lot of water has flown down the Son-e-Mun, and PDP now has succeeded in building its own cadres,” a local university student said. Son-e-Mun is a nallah which flows through HS Bugh constituency and irrigates thousands of hectares of land.
HS Bugh witnessed a mild 26 per cent polling during last Lok Sabha elections but many political pundits are of the opinion that will not be the case with the upcoming assembly elections. “Lok Sabha and assembly elections are two different processes,” a political activist planning to contest as an independent candidate told Kashmir Life. He added that during assembly elections people get more involved so the overall turnover may go beyond what was seen in LS polls. But there are analysts who believe that boycott factor has a potential to turn tables in anybody’s favour.