Kashmiris wonder if it’s corruption, apathy or both?
The village of Raithan in District Badgam is home to VV correspondent Sajad Rasool. Last autumn, his community was witnessed to a farce conducted by the Public Works Department in charge of Roads and Building. The main road that runs through the village and connects it with the rest of the district was tarred and macadamized using around Rs. 12, 90, 000 worth of public funds. Within a month, the newly laid road began coming apart. Even a little prod with a foot was enough to take down the tar off. The villagers insinuate that the department did not lay the tar but rather ‘painted it on’.
“It had been ten years since the road was repaired so when the work started the people were overjoyed,” says Sajad. “But the cheap quality of the reconstructed road has caused us to lose faith in the system. What a massive waste and public money and manpower and time!”
The ideal time to construct a road in Kashmir is the period between June and August when the cold hilly state basks in its brief summer. Sajad says that it is forbidden to lay a road in autumn as the moisture does not allow the tar to settle and harden. “But it is not just the weather,” says Sajad. “It’s a case of corruption and pilfering of public funds by the officials themselves.”
Dilapidated roads are a feature of rural Kashmir. The citizens have been increasingly calling for the government to pay attention to the crumbling infrastructure in the state. The state intends to pursue to modernization and industrial growth in the quest for a brighter future but the all signs in rural Kashmir point in the opposite direction.
Bad infrastructure in roads, power, water have been the subject of every other one of Sajad’s IndiaUnheard videos . He says that the shambles are ubiquitous. “I have to pinch myself when I find myself walking down a good decent road in Kashmir,’” he says. “99% of the time, I find myself waking up.”
A few weeks ago, after his video was made, the PWD agreed to work on the road again because of the public pressure. Sajad says that this time around about 1 km of the road is of superior quality. Thereafter, the road is reduced to ruins.