Better late than never, quips local
Srinagar, Jul 3 (GNS): In a bid to ensure safety and security of people living in villages along the Line of Control, authorities have initiated construction work on community bunkers in north-Kashmir’s Baramulla district, to provide the residents shelter during the cross-border firing. The fresh constructions have however taken fifteen long years since the earlier structures were damaged in the aftermath of a major earthquake across the border areas in 2005.
Assistant Executive Engineer R&B Uri, Imtiyaz Ahmad while talking to GNS said that “the construction of the structures will be carried out in a phase-wise manner in the areas lying close to the Line of Control.”
“The concerned authorities have allotted us with a total quota of forty-four bunkers for the Uri and Boniyar areas falling close to the border”, he said adding “However after the tenders were rolled out two weeks before, we have received response for thirty-two structures only.”
In the first phase, according to the official, work on seven structures with two each at Tilawari, Charunda and Mothal and one for Thajal area, falling in Hajipeer sector, has started this week only. The work on the remaining bunkers under the allotment will also start soon, the official maintained adding “the left out bunkers from the quota will go for fresh bidding soon.”
Detailing the design of the structures’, the official said that each community bunker will have two rooms with a size of 10×15 feet laced with all necessary facilities and is estimated to accommodate ten families at once.
Meanwhile, the local residents living along the border have had a mixed response to the move, however being unequivocal over ‘less number’ of bunkers allotted to the area.
“Given that we had been approaching the concerned authorities for a long now, It shouldn’t have taken so much of time to start the constructions”, a local said adding “The frequent skirmishes between the two armies has made it imperative to construct more of such structures to safeguard our lives and livestock.”
Farooq Ahmad, a resident of village Mothal remarked that “Something is better than nothing” however he was quick to add that “forty-four bunkers are not enough for over fifty villages lying close to the Line of Control.”
In the meantime residents of Kamalkote sector falling in Uri have also demanded for construction of Community Bunkers “on an immediate basis.”
A local Reyaz Ahmad while talking to GNS said that the Kamalkote area has off and on bore the brunt of the cross-border skirmishes. “Our lives and property are at stake and the recent flare-up has made it more difficult for us to live a life of peace and harmony”, the local said adding “We urge the concerned authorities to start the bunker construction on a fast track basis to ease out the things for us.”
Sarpanch Chrunda Lal Din Khatana echoed the concerns of the villagers and said that the proximity of the village to the border in the backdrop of recent past gunfire exchange has already taken a serious toll on our lives.
Apprehensive of their safety Community Bunkers, the village-head maintained that they even have made representations to the authorities to construct individual bunkers. “It is not safe for people to take live in these proposed (community) bunkers.”
When contacted SDM Uri Reyaz Ahmad Malik told GNS that Hajipeer sector in Uri, owing to its proximity to the border remains a priority to the administration for the bunker construction. “We even have sent a separate proposal to the higher-ups to sanction forty bunkers for Kamalkote on an immediate basis”, the official said.
Pertinent to mention here, J&K Home Department had in February this year sanctioned 125 community bunkers to the villages falling along Line of Control with an aim “to build shelters and safeguard human lives from the arbitrary cross-border shelling.”
As per the order, a copy of which lies with GNS, 85 bunkers have been approved for district Kupwara district and 40 for district Baramulla. The government had, in the meantime, also approved a budget of 25 crores for the construction of the bunkers. (GNS)