Baramulla town comprising two parts old and new is an ancient town, however, over the years the population has grown manifold and crossed the threshold of one lakh souls, though official records portray otherwise and maintain it around 80000 souls.
Meanwhile, it is the old town comprising 14 wards or localities that have been ignored by the successive representatives.
Even some blame politicians including sitting legislator Javeed Baig and his Member Parliament uncle Muzuffar Hussain Baig for completely ignoring the old part of the town as majority of people stay away from the voting process and politicians in power feel it’s just ‘wastage’ of money if spent on the development of the old localities though many of which are of historical importance.
Even people who managed to improve their economic status have left towards new colonies or civil lines areas of the town.
The old town which is an amalgam of congested localities are waiting for official and political attention. Locals say that from past two decades very few developmental activities were carried out in localities of the old town or in Mohallas which are absolutely in mess.
“We are being considered as second class citizens neither NC nor PDP did something good for us,” says Abdul Jabbar of Jamia locality. He said that since the start of militancy in early 90’s only two bridges were constructed by government. “One bridge was constructed by Muzzuffar Hussain Baig and another by his nephew Javaid Baig. Other than this no development has taken place in old Baramulla.”
Locals say earlier politicians had an alibi that youths in old town indulge in stone pelting that stops them from visiting this place. But from past two years old town has been the most peaceful part of town.
“I don’t remember when was the last time when any politician or bureaucrat visited the old town to listen about the grievances of the local population. Nobody is even bothered about us,” says Ashiq Khan
“Condition of lanes, by lanes and interior roads is testimony that old town has turned into slum,” he says that is the reason why people prefer to migrate from these areas of the old town. “We have been ignored by everyone.”
Though state government had proposal to decongest the old town localities, the proposal is yet to see the light of the day though more than rupees one crore has been earmarked for the project. Local residents say that there is not a single ground in old town and the Primary Health Centre at Bagh e Islam is useless despite government had spent huge money on the hospital.
“Nobody speaks on our behalf. So that is the reason why we are still backward. Even children’s park located in old town was never maintained. Earlier the localities of old town had many facilities but one by one all such facilities were withdrawn,” said Sagheer Ahmad a resident of Kakar Hamam
In the past many proposals were formulated by the officials to uplift the old town, however nothing concrete step was taken and slowly residents also forgot those projects. A proposal known as city forest was prepared from Stadium colony to Drangbal however project was left halfway.
Locals said that if government will take interest the old city could be transformed into a heritage town. Only it needs will and official patronage. So far no one is ready to adopt old town as people here stay away from vote politics. The old city could be developed on modern lines and special attention needs to be given to old town.
Last year though roads were blacktopped in every part of Kashmir only old town was ignored.
If government is serious without wasting any time the government should devise a new strategy and allocate funds for this neglected part of the state. Time has come when government should keep this place on top priority and don’t ignore it on vote bank politics.
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