Kokernag, July 26: Located near the famous spring, Kokernag and barely 20 kilometres away from the district headquarters of Anantnag, Anderwan, a small hamlet, has no potable water supply.
They have to walks miles down and up the hill to fetch from a nallah as they risk their lives while crossing through dense forest where wild animals have been seen roaming in broad day light
The picturesque village in Sagam area of Kokernag has around 150 households comprising of more than 400 inhabitants.
Ironically, the inhabitants have never seen a proper water supply to their homes even as the fresh water from the nearby, Kokernag, feeds thousands of people living several kilometres away from this place.
“It is unfortunate that we the inhabitants living in the vicinity of Kokernag have never seen water being provided up to our home and are forced to drink dirty water from a nallah which is unfit for consumption. Who would believe that the waters feeding Asia’s largest Trout Fish farm is just a couple of kilometres away from our village but we are being deprived of the same waters for decades now,” says a local Panch, Riyaz Ahmed.
The women folk of this area are forced to go downhill to fetch the water from a polluted source, be it winters or any other season.
“We have been fetching water in pitchers all our lives from three kilometres down this hillock while passing through dense corn fields. Water for drinking and cleaning purposes has to be fetched every day and all the women folk make two trips, one in the morning and one in the evening which suffices just for cooking and drinking,” says a local resident, Amina Bano.
It takes more than three hours of our daily schedule to collect and bring water to our households, for some who live in the upper mountains it takes more,, she adds.
The fetching of water is not the only concern or trouble these inhabitants face on daily basis. Since the village lies on hilly terrain with dense forests, the wild animals roam the area almost every day, especially in winters.
“The task of fetching water becomes riskier during the winter months as the track downhill becomes slippery. Many women have suffered fractures after falling. Bears and Leopards roam our village even during the day in winter,” says Farida Bano, another local.
She said that in 2014, her daughter, who was in her teens then, was attacked by a bear while accompanying her for fetching water from the nallah.
“A bear while seeing us heading towards nallah, pounced on her and grievously injured her.”
Farida adds that her daughter remains handicapped since that day as her head and leg suffered extensive damage in this attack.
“Had there been a water supply to our households, my daughter would not have met such a fate,” she says.
The villagers have kept plastic bins on the roadside near their houses which are occasionally filled by the water tanker of Jal Shakti department.
“The water tankers from Jal Shakti department do come once in ten days and fill the water tanks and plastic bins we have kept outside on the road but with such a huge population how much these tanks will fulfil our needs,” adds Riyaz, the Panch of Andarwan village.
He alleges that the MLAs and even Ministers from their area duped them. “They would seek our votes on the promise of providing water supply to our homes but never did any of them live up to their promise.”
“A couple of concrete water tanks were constructed in the vicinity which receives a few litres of water in the event of rainfall from a tiny underground water source. It mostly remains filled with dead rodents, cats and dogs hence leaving even that small amount of water unfit for consumption,” he adds
An official from the Jal Shati department did acknowledge that the village is suffering for want of potable water. “However the issue is going to get addressed as the department has already initiated the process of having a proper water supply mechanism for this area.”
“The area has been recently brought under the Jal Jeevan Mission Scheme. We have made a detailed project report which has been submitted while tenders have been awarded to a local contractor. Hopefully, within the year the work will be completed and the scheme executed,” said Junior Engineer, PHE sub division Kokernag, Muzaffar Gul.