“Our water bodies have vanished”: South Kashmir residents protest against non-local company

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The residents of Cheki-e-Wangund and adjoining villages on Wednesday staged a protest against Navayuga Engineering Company, a private construction company as they claimed that the water crisis has worsened particularly after the construction of 8.5-km Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, which passes through these villages.

Navayuga, which has a registered address in Visakhapatnam, is engaged in not only construction of irrigation projects, but also into roads, bridges, tunnels, ports and power plants.

“With the result, local natural resources as well as springs that used to feed Cheki-e-Wangund and its adjoining areas have vanished,” the protesters as per the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said.

The residents of Cheki-e-Wangund and its adjoining areas held a protest against Navayuga Engineering Company. They blocked  Qazigund-Banihal tunnel tube before the arrival of Tehsildar Dooru, DySP and SHO Qazigund at the spot.

Protesters told KNO that “Locals from at least four villages are stuck inside their homes as the private company constructing the tunnel have blocked the roads leading to four villages and the private construction company has made the locals suffer. The company promised us various facilities, but they have deceived people in name of providing the facilities.”

Accusing the private company of fraud, the locals alleged that the company had promised them borewells and other essential services, but no promise has been fulfilled yet.

Before they stopped the work on the tunnel, the locals said that the water supply to at least four villages has been hit completely.

Pertinently, the work on the Rs 2,100-crore project was started in June 2011 by the Navayuga Engineering Company. Once completed, the tunnel would reduce the distance between Banihal in Jammu province and Qazigund in south Kashmir to 16 km from the present 35 km and bypass the Jawahar Tunnel and the Shaitan Nalla, which are prone to heavy snowfall and slippery conditions during winters.

The work on the project was delayed for several reasons in the last 10 years and many deadlines were missed due to the unexpected land condition inside the tunnel, alleged financial crisis in the construction company and certain issues related to local landlords and company workers.

The tunnel is nearing completion and is expected to be opened for public use by March-end–(KNO)

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