Whose baby is ‘old-age home’ in Srinagar?

Afshana Farooq

Srinagar: Construction of an ‘old-age home’ in Wanganpora area of Srinagar under the euphemism of “senior citizen rehabilitation centre” has become an age-old affair as even after half a decade the project is incomplete.

A proposal letter, moved by Social Welfare Department (SWD) on 19 October 2011 to Jammu Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC), the proposed building, on a three-Kanal land, was a four-crore-plus project and was due to get completed within two years, according to a report that was published in Kashmir Reader in 2012.

The SWD in 2016, however, passes the buck in this regard and said that the department has “no involvement in this project”.

“We had a board meeting where the project was handed over to Deputy Commissionor,” the SWD Director Gazanfar Ali told Kashmir Narrator.

However, an official at SWD said, “It is purely under the control of MLA Mubarak Gul”, the then Advisor to former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had also laid down the foundation stone to the proposed building in 2011.

When contacted, Gul told Narrator that unrest has made the progress impossible and the “work on the project will be restarted in March 2017.”

“The centre is mainly constructed for the victims of militancy,” Gul said, adding that the rehabilitation centre is his “dream project”.

“I know I am not in the government. But it is my project and i will complete it,” Gul said.

At present, outer structure for two storeys has been constructed for the proposed rehabilitation centre and the building is looked after by a contractual employee.

“There has been no work for the last three years,” Muhammad Sharif, the contractual employee, said.

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Water damaged cement bags inside the building. Photo: Afshana Farooq

“All the material, including cement, was destroyed in 2014 floods,” he added.

Deputy General Manager JKPCC, Kashmir Division, Parvaiz Ahmad, when asked why was not the construction for the proposed project completed in due time, replied, “Due to non-availability of funds the project couldn’t be completed”.

Locals, however, said that they don’t want “an unblessed centre like old-age” in their locality.

“We don’t want an old-age home here. It will be a big shame on our community that we will send our elders to a rehabilitation centre or old-age home,” Ghulam Hassan Darzi, a local told Narrator.

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