Roads Politics: In 2015-16, Government Preferred Its Vote Bank For Road Improvement



In this KL file Image, then R&B Minister inspecting macadamization of roads in summer capital in 2015.
In this KL file Image, then R&B Minister inspecting macadamization of roads in Hyderpora area of Srinagar in 2015.

Any idea where the roads were macadamized better in 2015-16?  J&K macadamized 1512.13 kms in Kashmir and Ladakh and 1612.29 kms in Jammu region. But which constituency got what?

Information accessed from the government offers a clear case of discrimination of political basis, at least in Kashmir. Ruling government made a strong pick and choose forgetting that their own vehicles also travel the opposition belts.

Yes it was Amira Kadal, the home constituency of the then R&B Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari that got the best of the investment. This constituency that houses the governance structure had 161.07 kms macadamized in last financial year.

It was Hazratbal constituency, which has its representative lawmaker Asiya Naqash as a minister, that played the second fiddle to Amirakadal. It had 67.84 kms macadamized last year.

Other Srinagar constituencies did not perform less. Sonawar had 64.38 kms macadamized, Batamaloo had 61.76 kms, Zadibal had 33.88 kms.

The improvement in the constituencies represented by the opposition, the NC, was not better. Eidgah, Haba Kadal, and Khanyar witnessed macadamization of only 8 kms, 17.40 kms and 25.05 kms, respectively.

The situation outside Srinagar was not very different. Islamabad, that Chief Minister personally represented had 63.80 kms of roads improved. It was his personal attention that led to the macadamization of 65.70 kms in Pahalgam, a constituency that NC represents. Mufti Sayeed was keen to see Pahalgam improving to the best in infrastructure. He would frequently fly to the destination to oversee investment and projects.

Shopian, Pulwama and Tral were the three other assembly constituencies that got good investment in roads. Shopian, the smallest district of the state, witnessed macadamization of 64.75 kms, Pulwama had 57.15 kms of its road improved and the militancy-infested Tral had 50.55 kms improved.

What happened to other constituencies tell a different tale. Not a single centimeter of any road was taken up by the government for macadamization under any Union or state government scheme in the year, in Uri and Gurez, the two border constituencies represented by the opposition NC. Karnah, which is also a border belt but represented by PDP got 7.70 kms of its roads macadamized.

While Leh and Nubra witnessed macadamization of 12.90 kms, it was only 8.70 kms in Kargil and Zanskar constituencies. Congress is the main representative of the region.

Unlike the noisy and talkative Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh, the seasoned Yousuf Tarigami got better. Langate got only 14.25 kms and Kulgam got 32 kms of its roads improved under all state and Union government schemes. Even Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu’s Rajpora got only its 30.05 kms macadamized.

Though most of the South Kashmir got a fair deal, Devsar, Noorabad and Humshali Bugh did not get much. Devsar got 2.30 kms, Noorabad got 9.60 kms and Humshali Bugh only 8.50 kms of its roads macadamized. All the three constituencies are represented by the NC.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Beerwah constituency got only 21.75 kms, Bandipora got 18.51 kms and Sonawari only 18.55 kms.

In Jammu, it was Gandhi Nagar getting the best of it – 181.92 kms. Jammu East and West got 68.68 kms and 60.94 kms, respectively.

Poonch-Haveli got 70.60 kms macadamized.

Unlike Kashmir, Jammu has not a single constituency that remained untouched. Bani is perhaps the only constituency that got lowest length of road macadamized, only 2.50 kms. All other constituencies had adequate two-digit lengths.

Though the costs of macadamization of roads in 2015-16 are by and large still unpaid, the government has not resumed the process for current fiscal. Opposition NC is alleging that most of the resources are being pumped into Islamabad where the Chief Minister is contesting later this month.


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