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Open forum: Arandu residents decry lack of basic facilities

ARANDU, Jan 23: At an open Katchery held in Arandu on Wednesday, the residents piled up complaints against almost all government departments as well as some NGOs for neglecting their area and keeping the inhabitants deprived of all basic facilities of life.

The open Katchery was organized by Deputy Commissioner Chitral Muhammad Shuaib Jadoon in collaboration with the heads of all line departments at the Pakistan-Afghan border area. MNA Chitral Shahzada Iftikharuddin was also present on the occasion. They also complained regarding shortage of drinking water at Dameel, Arkui and Arandu.

They apprised the officials concerned about the issues related to the departments of public health engineering, education, health, communication and works (C&W), livestock, forest as well as the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and complained that they had miserably failed to work in the area. They said that illegal cutting and smuggling of forest (timber) was continuing from this area to Afghanistan causing great loss to the local people.

There is a shortage of medical staff at the only dispensary of Arandu. Besides, schools remained closed due to absence of teachers. They also complained that a scheme was launched to supply drinking water to the area in 2010 but despite spending a huge amount the project was still incomplete and people remained deprived of drinking water. They said that the C&W department did nothing in this area and link roads were in very a very dilapidated condition. They also demanded construction of bridges or chairlifts on the river to enable them to meet their relatives living across the river near Dameel, Langorbutt and Arkoi.

Elites of the area said a hydro powerhouse was under construction by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and its machinery also shifted to Chitral but work remained suspended on the project for the last three years. The residents complained that Arandu was neglected in the past deliberately and that was why literacy rate was still very low in this area. They also complained about the shortage of wheat in the area. They said the building of a girl school had been completed but no staff was deployed there and students were still deprived of education.

Divisional Forest Officer Shaukat Fayaz said 15 forest guards would be recruited in the forest department from this area. Relief items, including tents, were also distributed among the flood-affected people of the area. The residents on the occasion appreciated the district administration for arranging the open forum and giving them the opportunity to bring their issues into the notice of the authorities concerned. They said the government should ensure that the officials concerned remained in touch with the residents of this area, situated at a distance of about 95 kilometers south-east of Chitral town, so that the issues of the area could be resolved.

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