Efficient Administration Bandipora Style
The synergy between the DC and the SSP plus consistent focus on efficient governance is yielding dividends for the people
Efficient administration is the hope of people everywhere. How far are these expectations answered in Kashmir valley?
We are aware that different people in different districts have different experiences and of course different aspirations. As part of our endeavour to profile the district administrations, Kashmir Central chose district Bandipora in North Kashmir as the second district in the series.
The jurisdiction of Bandipora District starts just seven kilometers from the city center of Srinagar district. It ends right at the LOC in north Kabul Gali, which is 113 kilometers from Gurez valley. Area wise, Bandipora district is perhaps the largest district in Kashmir valley followed by Anantnag in South Kashmir.
Geographically Bandipora is more of a hilly district. Gurez sub division is about 85 kilometers from the district headquarters. Teetwal is situated more than 200 kilometers away from Bandipur district headquarters. Usually Gurez and Tulail tehsils remain cut off from the rest of the world for about five months due to heavy snowfall during winter. Therefore, Bandipora district is among the most difficult districts to be managed administratively, among the various districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
The feedback from diverse quarters is that taking its topographical difficulties into consideration, Bandipora district is challenging for the district administration. Efficient governance in Bandipora district reflects on the ability, conviction and integrity of the district administration, particularly the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP.
Across the valley, it is acknowledged that the LG administration has done a commendable job in providing efficient administration to the people at the district levels. There could be some wrong choices and wrong people in certain cases, but the intentions seem to be very clear.
Governance Delivery Till Last Mile
Bandipora is fortunate to be blessed with district administration which is responsive and proactive regarding the expectations of the people. Courtesy the efforts made by the district administration, Bandipora has come a long distance in the last three years.
This correspondent interacted with dozens of locals at Bandipora town, particularly the people who had come from far off places like Gurez and Tulail tehsils. It is important to note that the needs, requirements, aspirations and expectations of these people are not the same as those living in the plains.
For them, the most important thing is that there should be food available in the house to cook in the evening and they should have the means to light the stove, be it on timber or LPG cylinder.
Also, people in these areas have a major requirement for a snow clearing machine in the winter to clear the snow and provide inter village road connectivity. There should also be sufficient stock of essential commodities at the sub division tehsil headquarters, which can last for about six months. The helicopter services for emergency situations should be readily available. In summer, people are concerned about providing for winter, because these months are harsh here and they remain cut off from the world because of heavy snow.
Efficient Reach Of Welfare Initiatives
The Bandipora and Sumbal sub divisions are geographically accessible, but are challenging in their own way. For instance, Hajin area of Sumbal Sonawari is separated from the Bandipora district headquarters by the mighty Wular lake. Hajin is just four kilometers from the district headquarters. But one has to travel 45 kilometers from Bandipora to Hajin along the banks of Wular lake. The lake separates the closest habitations by miles. It is a unique feature of this district that you have marshy land on the left and mountains on the right side of the road from Safapura to Bandipora.
On account of various factors, it is a challenge for the administration to manage the district. Due to the consistent efforts made by the DC and the SSP to provide efficient and reliable governance, one can see the rekindled hopes and faith of people in the district administration.
A resident of Tulail who was in Bandipora for some personal work very intelligently made a point. He said, “Earlier the district administration would administer the district headquarters and be concerned largely about Bandipora town only. Now the administration is equally concerned about the last household of the last village near LOC at Chakwali, the last village of Tulail Valley towards the Kargil border.
The resident said that this for the first time that the DC and SSP of the Bandipora district visit Gurez and Tulail valley after about two or three months. There are many official and unofficial events happening throughout the year at far off places of Gurez and Tulail. These are organized to connect people with the administration more frequently.
The civil administration and the security forces keep providing avenues and opportunities to the people under various centrally sponsored schemes and district plans. People are judiciously benefited from these schemes and programs.
Vibrant Panchayats, Robust Delivery
It is to be noted that Bandipora has the most vibrant Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir. The Panchayats are doing phenomenally well both on account of implementation and execution of the developmental programs, and participation of local population in the developmental projects.
Our Effort Is To Maximize Opportunities For The Youth
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Dr Owais Ahmad
The young and energetic Dr Owais Ahmad heads the district administration. Talking to Kashmir Central, Deputy Commissioner Dr Owais said that the connect between the youth and the district administration is unprecedented. It is because of the enthusiasm among the youth for achieving something in their lives that the district tops in medal tally in inter-district, inter-state, national and international sports events in various categories. Dr Owais said that the district administration is consistently trying to maximize all opportunities for the youth so that they may participate in more and more sports, academics or other self-development activities as per their choice.
DC Bandipora said that the areas which were rated as highly vulnerable in the past have now stabilized in terms of law and order. “There are certain areas which had earned a bad name because of unprovoked stone pelting. They would target every government functionary including the MLAs. The same areas now welcome us with open arms. This is because we have institutionalized the delivery system in the district and also because of the fact that we remain accessible to the people at all times.”
Regarding the empowerment of women, Dr Owais said that the district has 20,000 self -help groups. “Recently we were approached by an organization of Assam government for doing embroidery on the traditional south Indian pattern on shawls. They provided initial training to the self-help groups. In just two months, we were able to get orders in bulk from Assam for this embroidery work. The achievement can be imagined from the fact that the products made by the self-help groups are finding direct market, and we have been able to sell our products on Amazon and Flipkart,” Dr Owais said. Paper mache, embroidery, handicraft and stitching are the main focus areas among self-help groups.
Synergy Between Civil And Police Administration
The synergy seen between the civil and police administration in Bandipora district is receiving overwhelming appreciation of people. Residents of Bandipora speak high of the civil and police leadership of the district.
The district is mountainous and has a 113 kilometer long LOC. It is even more important to have synergy between the civil and police administration and work in tandem with the security forces.
In this area, there are high challenges of infiltration. It is being appreciated by one and all that not even a single person from the areas close to LOC in the district has been found involved in cross border infiltration or smuggling of narcotics. It is credit-worthy that people of Gurez and Tulail valley living so close to the LOC have never got involved in any kind of subversive activity. We have come across the reports of modules in Uri, Machil, Nowgam, Keran sectors etc. But no report of such modules, official or unofficial, has emerged from Gurez and Tulail.
High Performance Of LG Grievance Cell
Under Public Services Guarantee Act, the LG Grievance Cell is one of the best in Bandipore District. According to official data available with the Kashmir Central, the redressal ratio in the district is 75%.
In conversation with this correspondent, SSP Bandipora Zahid Malik said that the grievances are not just taken off from the portal for the sake of it. “The mitigation mechanism is highly proactive in our district. We look into every single complaint and do our best to resolve it promptly.”
He added that many complaints remain untraced as some people are habitual of uploading the complaints under anonymous category which are not traced on ground. He said that all genuine complaints are addressed on priority. “We are conscious that Hon’ble LG is very particular about improving the public delivery system in the UT. The administration in Bandipora is doing everything possible to keep the promise of efficient administration.”
To a question about the public outreach in the district, he said that it is for the first time that entire people of the district have access to the administration. “You can see the Deputy Commissioner’s office flooded with people the whole day. People have easy access to both of us. We keep visiting the inaccessible areas to know about the problems people face, and try to address those problems in a time bound manner,” he said.
Stable Security Situation
As for the security situation, Bandipora district is by and large peaceful. According to official records not a single recruitment in terrorist camps has been reported so far in 2022. Two civilian killings were perpetrated by the terrorists in the district during this year. In both the cases the perpetrators have been arrested and the cases have been resolved.
The infiltration from Gurez sector has gone down considerably. Some foreign terrorists had infiltrated in the month of May this year from Gurez sector. They were gunned down by the security forces with short span of time near Bandipora. However, there is a network of OGWs and hybrid militants in Sumbal Sonawari area. The police have booked many OGWs and hybrid militants.
There are no traces of narco-terrorism in the district. Weapon smuggling was reported from Gurez sector on one or two occasions. According to police reports, a number of weapons were seized from the LOC on specific inputs. Smuggling of drugs has not been reported thus far.
However, drug peddlers are there. The drugs mostly come from Srinagar and Budgam districts to the areas located near the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway. According to the district administration, around 36 drug peddlers have been arrested and booked under relevant provisions of law. Some notorious drug peddlers who were never touched earlier have been booked under PSA. Mandela gang is one such gang which has been uprooted.
The synergy between the civil and police administration in the district is always good for the people. If both work cohesively, the people are the immediate beneficiaries. For optimum performance, the leaders also need vibrant and efficient performers down the hierarchy.
While talking to some people outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office, this correspondent could figure out that instructions issued at the top level are not executed by some officers in the lower ranks. By doing so, the officers are creating problems for the general public. People may be facing similar challenges at the district police headquarters too. There are some officers who are habitual of creating roadblocks in the smooth functioning of the administration. This is not a healthy sign.