As the night falls on the Tathan Top mountain hamlet, comprising 60 households and barely 5 km from the Dooru town in southern Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the view is mesmerizing as thousands of houses on the foot of this mountainous village get illuminated but the inhabitants have to light up pieces of wood for lighting their rooms.
The hamlet overlooks vast areas of Dooru town and opposite it lies the mighty Pir Panjal mountain range and Banihal pass, through which Jawahar Tunnel passes, which is also visible from here.
The cluster of houses, mostly made of mud and bricks, are nestled on Tathan Top, the panoramic view from where gives a bird's eye view of Dooru, Shahabad, Verinag and other adjacent areas.
The main road to this village is barely 2 km walk from here but still the administration never bothered to connect more than 200 habitants of this village with the network of roads in the area.
Be it the harsh winters or the rainy season, the students, as well as the working men from this community, are compelled to take an hour of the steep trek to-and-fro to this village, everyday.
There are no roads, potable water or any other developmental infrastructure visible in this hamlet, which mostly comprises of Gujjar and Bakerwal community.
With the result, the children of the locals abandon their studies as their major chunk of time gets spent on fetching water from more than 2 km while the middle and other high schools are located some 5 km from here.
Locals say that every politician promised them of proper roads and infrastructure, which never became a reality till date.
“We have been facing immense hardships in the absence of an adequate infrastructure. The politicians from different parties do turn up at our place after every five years with the promise of providing us with all basic infrastructure, but afterwards, they forget us. No government has taken any step to provide us with electricity or any other basic facility. It seems the administration has forgotten that any such locality exists here on this mountain. We did visit several offices but to no avail,” says a local, Zaffarullah Khan.
Another local says that through his 70 years of life, he had never seen electricity at his home as there was no infrastructure for it.
“I am over 70 years and all my life, we have been using firewood to illuminate our homes. Many politicians came to seek our votes and after voting in their favour, they wouldn’t even recognize us. This used to be repeated by every politician of every party, every five years. I have spent all my life in this darkness to which there seems no end in sight. The government did provide us with some portable lighting gadgets once, but those did not last more than a month,” says Aalam Deen, another elderly local.
The non-availability of water supply lines has come as a hurdle to the girl students who have no option but to discontinue their studies as they are needed in their homes to fetch water.
“I dropped out after finishing the primary school as every day it would take us hours to bring water for drinking and washing purposes. Our locality does not have a middle school and it won’t be possible for girls like me to take hours for fetching water and then go to school which is 5 km away. If there would have been even a patch like a thing which we can call a road, we would have been able to catch a cab to reach the school. Giving up studies is the only option so that we can help our families get adequate supply of water which we fetch from a far away spring in winters and summers alike,” says Zarina.
The Assistant Executive Engineer for Roads and Buildings department, Dooru Shahabad, says the Detailed Project Report has been submitted for the construction of road here but so far it had not been approved.
“We have submitted a DPR for laying a road up to and through Tathan Top village costing around Rs 2.5 crore last year but so far we did not receive its approval. It’s up to the higher authorities to take the decision regarding this,” AEE for R&B Dooru, Ishtiaq Ahmed said.
An official in the Power Development Department for Dooru Shahabad Sub-Division said, "We have been asked to electrify the un-electrified areas on an urgent basis under Saubhagya Scheme or Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. The poles and other material have been laid at Tathan Top which is on top priority in the list of areas to be electrified and we will be starting the work here within days.”