“We can’t go out even if someone dies”: Budgam villagers lament non-clearance of snow

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Srinagar: The roads in various villages of central Kashmir’s Budgam district continue to remain blocked even it has been more than a week since Kashmir received heavy snowfall. 

The residents of villages: Kanidajan, Darwan, Chalren, Chotiinaad, Nowgam, Doadekhato, Bajran, Dogulpatheri,  in Charari-Sharief area complained of the negligence of the authorities in snow clearance. 

Located in the hilly area of Charar-e-Sharief, the villages received more than 4 feet of snow as the Met department had predicted a major snowfall in the valley. These villages are at a distance of almost 20 kilometers from the main town Charar-e-Sharief. 

Lone Waseem, a 24-year-old resident of Kandajan village while talking to The Kashmir Walla said that the Roads and Buildings department has cleared the link roads but the main roads are yet to be cleared, giving the locals major trouble especially in cases of medical emergency.

A 35-year-old woman of Kanidajan village, who fell ill and had to be hospitalised immediately, was taken to the hospital in a bulldozer, Waseem said. 

He said that even taking the woman to the bulldozer was a hectic task. “We had to use a makeshift stretcher.”

When the residents went to the R&B department in the area to clear the roads, they were asked to visit the Mechanical Engineering Department as the clearance of main roads came under it. “Upon going to the Mechanical Department, we were told that they lack the machinery and hence they can’t clear the roads,” he said.

“We don’t know if the people from the upper villages are alive or not as there is still more than 4 feet of snow there,” Waseem lamented. 

The Kanidajan resident further said that the government has cleared the roads leading to the tourist spot of Yusmarg but they aren’t concerned about their own people. In order to get a strip of medicine for his ailing father, a day before, he left his home in the morning, and walked all the way to the Charar, located 12 kilometers from his home. “I reached back home between 7 and 8 pm. It took me a whole day to buy a strip of medicine,” he said. 

“We only want the authorities to clear the road,” he said. “Some of these villages are in hilly areas. It is impossible for them to come out of their house. What if someone is critical, how will he reach the hospital,” he said, adding, “they would die even before reaching the hospital.”  

32-year-old Mohammad Altaf Bhat, a labour of Darwan village, said that he has been confined to his home for the past eight days. “Forget about working, we can’t go out even if someone dies,” he said, adding that his village has always been neglected by the government. 

Altaf said that he is worried about his eight-year-old son who often falls sick. “What if I have to take him to a hospital. How can I reach so far?” he asks. 

District commissioner (DC) Budgam, Shahbaz Mir, in a tweet yesterday said that he along with his team visited far-flung areas of Charar-e-Sharief and Pakherpora to review the post snowfall restoration of the essential services in the area. 

However, Waseem said that the DC and his team visited areas like Pakherpora but they could not reach his village and other adjoining villages as the roads were still blocked. 

The Kashmir Walla tried to reach the authorities of the Budgam district but they were not available for comments. 

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