Other than a Common Facility Centre, a Rural Information Centre and a sewage network, the government has failed to develop the facilities mandated under the Model Village project in SK Pora, JUNAID NABI BAZAZ reports
In the picturesque village of Sonoor Kali Pora (SK Pora) in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, septuagenarian Ghulam Nabi Khan is sitting on the porch of a shop gossiping with his friends. He is probably the oldest man of the village. “Tell me, have you arrived here on foot or bullock cart?” Khan asks me, as he smokes from an old, traditional hookah which he inherited from his great grandfather. “The roads connecting to our village are in a debilitated condition.”
There is no direct bus service from the district centre, Budgam, to SK Pora, which was touted to be one of the Model Villages taken up by the state government for development under a centrally-sponsored scheme. The only access to the village is through a network of various villages where the frequency of traffic is less and roads are debilitated and narrow. Upon reaching SK Pora, a small entry gate welcomes the visitors. The village is mostly made up of small hut like structures which are connected by broken bridges and surrounded by a sea of agriculture land. A mosque has also been constructed where the faithful of the village gather to offer prayers.
SK Pora was given the status of Model Village by Jammu and Kashmir government in 2007. Even five years after the development process started, the village fares no better than any other backward villages of Kashmir valley. Apart from a Common Facility Centre and a Rural Information Centre, all the other projects mandated to be developed in such villages. Land has been obtained for development for a Children’s Park and Playground but the work has not been started. There is no Shopping Centre neither has the government developed a common sanitation facility in the village, as laid down in the charter of the scheme. To top it all, the documents that were laid down on the table in J&K assembly show that the construction of village has been ‘completed.’
The government had sanctioned Rs 1.2 crore for revamping the infrastructure and construction of various amenities including laying roads and drains in the village. The aim of the Model Village was to minimise the rural-urban divide, improve the quality of rural life, demonstration of latest technology, integrated development of areas based on local resources, optimum utilization of revenues available under various schemes, construction of shopping complex, lanes, drains, crossing culverts, entry gates solar lights and other activities as per local needs.
Only few projects have been implemented in SK Pora. The Sarpanch of the village says that the government has been very lax in initiating work on the developmental projects. “No work has been started on Primary Health Centre and the electricity receiving station. The government has only identified sites for them. So many years have passed and it seems that there is no intention on part of the government to start the work,” Ghulam Nabi Mir, SK Pora’s Sarpanch says.
The villagers were hopeful that the upgradatation work will change their lives but as the time passed by, their expectations were slowly shattered. “Initially, when the government installed street lights, we were hopeful that the fate of our village was going to change very soon. But soon afterwards, it all proved to be a hoax. When they became non-functional, nobody came to repair them,” Mir says.
However, the sarpanch and the villagers surrounding him were satisfied with the implementation of some programs under the scheme. According to Mir, the problem arises because the amount sanctioned by the government for the development of the village was less given the number of poor people living in SK Pora, “Out of 350 families, 250 are living below poverty line. The funds given by the government were spent on certain development projects while the rest remains underdeveloped,” Mir says.
Under the Model Village scheme, the only big change SK Pora village has witnessed over the last five years is the development of proper sanitation network. Open drains that earlier threatened the healthcare have been linked by a proper sewage system. “Earlier, most of the lanes were filled with water from drains, which impeded the movement of pesestrians and traffic. Now it has changed,” Ghulam Nani Khan, a local said.