Udhampur – My Town – My Appraisal

JAMWAL MAHADEEP SINGH 

TRAVEL

The Udhampur town located in the Shivalik range of Himalayas is popularly known as ‘Devika Nagri’, once famous as a town of ‘Ba, Bakey and Bowlis’, named after Raja Udham Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of Dogra rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

It attained the status of district in 1931 A.D. In 1947 the former district as “Reasi District” comprising of Rajouri and Reasi tehsils was separated and Rajouri clubbed with Poonch district and Reasi became part of Udhampur. At that time the whole area of present district Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar and Reasi was a part of this district. The people from all these areas started visiting Udhampur for official works and it became a growth centre. In 1948 erstwhile undivided Doda district was separated from Udhampur and in 2006, Reasi district was also carved out from district Udhampur. In this way the ever flourishing district squeezed from time to time.

 

As an adventurer from my birth to early education, outside the state and sometime outside the Udhampur district along with my serving father, ultimately landed in Multilateral Higher Secondary School Udhampur in 1970, graduated from Degree College Udhampur, entering into government service and presently living in the town as senior citizen. I carry with me the memories of 49 years of this town. During long span of years, I can vouch that politically the Udhampur Constituency has never remained under domination of any political party.

Honestly speaking whatever is visible in the town or adjoining area as ‘development’ cannot be attributed to a particular representative. As  freelance writer, I feel my responsibility to divulge that whatever would have been achieved during this period memory haunts me that is missing from the horizons of the development.

Here we can safely comment that this town has gained backwardness more than any progression. It will not be out of context to say that ‘politics of the town’ is much responsible for its backwardness as we have never seen the entire town on one platter, even when we have to look for better policies/schemes for the town.The populace of the town has been frenzied by political class for their vested interests and a particular political segment takes the town as their fiefdom and is always in hot pursuit of capturing the seats of public delivery. The street murmur brands them as turncoat and self-centric calculated chieftain, who look for political gain rather than any easement for the common man.

The city has enlarged by way of settling of much population from adjoining area of the district and this has added to the multifaceted complexities in the town itself. The residential portions have been converted to commercial activities, as we find the entire much famous ‘Lambi Gali’ and ‘Aarya Samaj Gali’ converted to shops by front settlers creating hurdles for pedestrians.

We do not find even a single lane in the town, not having commercial hubs. The encroachment in the ‘Bazars’ by hawkers and kiosk runners have contributed further to deface the town due to political patronage to this unorganized sector.We can safely conclude that the Udhampur town is a business hub owing to reasons of many formations around the town such as: ‘Northern Command HQ’, ‘Command Hospital Northern Command’, ‘Police Training Academy’, ‘3 Advance Base workshop EME’, ‘Air Force Station’, ‘1 FOD’, ‘BSF Subsidiary Training Center’, ‘Range Police Headquarters of Udhampur-Reasi range’, number of paramilitary locations around the city and many more. The visionary focus of the Udhampurians is thus business centered rather than looking for other essential developmental activities.

If we focus on other aspects of the human facilitation, we conclude that there is deterioration in all essential services, once facility of water supply twice in a day has been slashed to limited time that by interval of days together.

There is no proper drainage system and Municipal Council is under constant blame game. The population explosion in the town has forced increase in number of passenger vehicles/matadors in the town without any parking area thus creating mesh in the town. The decrease in quality education in government schools in the adjoin that forcing the population to admit their wards in the city, have facilitated the mushroom growth of private schools in the city without having approved infrastructure for the same that are minting money without any check from the government or local administration. The worst situation is the unchecked encroachment in the town on government land,banks of extinguished seasonal ‘Nallas’, drains and what not.

Present dispensation claims of many developmental achievements, schemes, many inaugurations and announcements in and around the town, but all these tend to development as imaginary hoax. Many lucrative announcements made about four years back very heavyweight ministers from BJP camp in much publicized ‘Vikas Sushasan Rally’ at Udhampur such as: Rs 1.50 crore for Udhampur Municipal Council for purchasing JCB, tippers etc to equip it with basic infrastructure, Rs 50 lakh for construction of lanes and drains for the town, State of Art Auditorium at the cost of Rs 10 crore, eight overhead bridges at the cost of Rs 10 crore in the town to reduce the congestion, construction of Panchayat at Battal Ballia at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, com-munity hall for Rs 20 lakh, all have yet to come in the light of day.

When we speak of other announcements for the adjoining area of the Udhampur town, we come across regarding solid waste treatment plant at Mand Udhampur for Rs 25 crore,foot bridges in rural Udhampur for Rs 20 lakh, achieving of100% target for rural electrification of entire Udhampur District, Under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Jeevan Jyoti by March 2017 (even urban area is badly suffering till now, whatto speak of rural area) , construction of hall, sports stadium,children complex and other facilities at Chenani, construction of Udhampur-Goldie and Chenani-Palangat from CRF, a community shed in Ramnagar town. These all announcements till date are imaginary hoax created towards development. Later foundation stone for Akashwani Radio Station for Udhampur laid, announcements of Devika project, ‘Captain Tushar Memorial Park’, up gradation of ‘Gangeda Hills’ ‘controversial Stadium’ looking for further progress. Adjoining tourist spots of Kud, Patnitop, Sanasar, Sudh Mahadev, Pandav Temples in Krimchi, beautiful Panchari belt and many more have remained ever neglected thus there conditions is deteriorating exposing development in the field of tourist sector.

Rehabilitating historical forts falling in the district is a daydream including religious places of much importance.

Summing up I can say that except development in encroachments, traffic jams, increase in road accidents,increase in private schools, laboratories, the town has not seen what the development is? And we can rightly claim that development in Udhampur is an imaginary hoax.

In simple words we can say that development means to drag out the suffering commonality from multifaceted problems, enabling them to have the living basics at their door step and to keep the population updated with the modern and scientific approach. We call development that is based on creation of infrastructure, Industrial base, and human development in health, education and living standard. If we have to accelerate and shape development, we have to focus especially on how the environment can be made most conducive for self-organizing complexity to evolve.

Since time immortal human race is in continuous run for development, but Politics is the main reason for lacking it. This attributes to the main concern of the politicians to consolidate vote bank based on religion and caste system rather to go for equitable development of the area. Same applies to the historic town of Udhampur.

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