Poverty ridden life in the interiors of Dal Lake
Indian administered Kashmir, September 14
In the interiors of world famous Dal Lake here poverty ridden life of inhabitants has so far remained elusive from any governmental or voluntarily assistance. People here are devoid of almost all basic amenities of life.
Though within the radius of 8-10 kms from city-centre the area is devoid of even fundamental developments. Moti mohallah (Kalan)- Saidakadal, one such area lies in the heart of the Lake. The mohallah can be approached either through shikara (boat) or through bund.
The area has 100 families as BPL’s (below poverty line) and 55 fall under Annapurna/ Antodaya Yojana (free ration scheme) out of a total number of 162 families. The figures itself speak about poor economic condition of the residents that is further worsened by their conflict-ridden economy.
As per the survey conducted by a non government organization, the area has 97 children working as child labourers and 351 children working in other different capacities out of a total population of 552 children in the area.
“Poor economy and lack of education facilities together with weak administration, law and order coupled with ongoing conflict are the reasons responsible for the grave situation,” says the programme coordinator of the organization.
Education is still not a priority for the people, here. High drop out rate, poor infrastructure and no preference to girl education speaks volumes about education status here.
“Status of education in the area is deteriorating. A primary school that exists here has the infrastructure in worst form. Drop out rate is always on rise. School infrastructure and attendance of teachers has never been paid attention by the concerned authorities. This school was started some 40 years back and just 41 students were on rolls last year that reduced to just 10-15 this year. No recreational facilities are available for the children in these schools,” says a group of youth, here.
Hafiza, a volunteer says that parents here lack awareness about importance of education. “They are more interested in earning their livelihood than educating their children particularly the girl-child. If in any case children manage to pass the primary education, for the middle school education they have to travel up to Nishat. This adds to more problems as parents are not willing to send their daughters to far off places,” says Hafiza.
Overall literacy rate here is low especially among the women folk. Girl education is not given much importance and they are more into work force. “The only middle school in this area is 2 km away and during the past 20 years girls were not allowed to move out, so further (middle/high/higher secondary) education became out of question. Drop out rate particularly among girls is more. This is where awareness about importance of education is essential,” says Shaheen Anjum, a social activist.
According to Hafiza, a unit has been started by a non-government organization for adolescent girls wherein they are trained about crewel and other art work. She says that she visits every house in the area, interacts with parents and motivates them to send their wards to schools.
“Children particularly girl children have lost interest in studies. They prefer to work. Non formal education has been started for those who can not afford to go to school. We want them to be able to atleast calculate things, read their name and put their signatures,” she says.
Preference for male child was vividly observed from birth to other aspects in life including education. Girl child is usually ignored. Registration of births and deaths was something new to people.
The volunteer further added that she has formed Child Group Development (CGD) in the area to look after the cleanliness of the area. CGD is a group of children who are first educated about cleanliness and then they carry the message from house to house.
Health facilities in the area too are marginalized. It was reported that a dispensary exists in the area where helper and Ancillary Nurse cum Midwife (ANM) visits once or twice a week.
“The village is devoid of proper medical facilities. People have to move to the city for the medical check ups. Many deaths in the village have taken place during night due to absence of timely medical aid. Children mostly suffer from health related problems like chest infections, intestinal infections,” says Tanveer Hussain, a local resident.
It was further reported that no ICDS (Integrated Child Development Service) centre exists in the mohallah. Women of the area are not much exposed to outer world. “They are completely ignorant about their rights and schemes run by various departments of the government. Because of the ongoing conflict they have developed fear that has affected their psycho-social well being,” says Shaheen.
“I have applied for widow-fund but for last six months the case is pending. Some were asked to come next time as they said that they were running short of funds,” says a widow who had applied for widow-pension.