‘Lack of electricity, poppy crop major problems in Sholgara’
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The administrative head for Sholgara district of northern Balkh province on Sunday said a lack of electricity and farmers’ return to poppy crop cultivation were two big problems in the town.
Sirajuddin Abid told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview that Sholgara had been one of insecure districts of Balkh in the past, but now the security situation in the town had considerably improved.
In this regard, he said the reconstruction of the Sholgara-Mazar-i-Sharif highway, implementation of development projects and the creation of an Afghan Local Police (ALP) force contributed to the improvement in security situation.
He said previously people would complain about armed robberies on the road between Sholgara and Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, but the issue had been resolved with the reconstruction of the road.
He said reconstruction of a 28 kilometres portion of the highway would be completed soon at a cost of 10 million afghanis.
The official said hundreds of welfare projects had been completed in 120 villages of the district through 110 development councils under the National Solidarity Programme (NSP).
Though the district chief called as beneficial the creation of the ALP force in area of security, but some residents did not agree with him.
Residents of Gangora and Niaq areas accused the local police of intimidating residents and taking bribes under various pretexts.
A resident of Gangora area, Mohammad Juma, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the ALP deployment had overcome Taliban’s threat, but the force sometimes created problems for local residents.
He alleged the ALP personnel used to arrest people over petty issues, fabricate charges against them and demand money in return for their release.
But the district chief said he had not yet received any complaints against the ALP force. He said if common people registered their complaints against the ALP personnel, legal action would be surely taken.
Abid confirmed some powerful individuals had occupied grazing lands belonging to Kuchi tribesmen, but did not go into details.
Residents said powerful individuals had occupied many meadows and their repeated complaints in this regard fell on deaf ears.
A Kuchi tribesman, Sarkhel Arab Khan, said more than 25,000 acres of grazing lands belonging to Kuchi tribe had been grabbed by powerful individuals in Bahram Gor, Bahram Shah, Yak Kundah, Sad Mesh and Aqsa areas of the district.
He said they had moved courts against the powerful land-grabbers, but there had been no verdicts for the last few years.
The district chief confirmed the occupation of grazing lands by powerful individuals and said serious efforts were underway to reclaim the swaths.
After a break lasting five years, farmers in Balkh have returned to cultivating poppy crop in their fields in various districts, including Sholgara.
Sirajuddin Abid did not rule out the poppy cultivation but he also did not explicitly confirm the issue.
“We are concerned about poppy cultivation. We have held meetings with farmers and tribal elders in this regard, but we are yet to see the crop standing in fields.”
According to Abid, there are 50 schools in the district, in which 34000 students both boys and girls are enrolled.
Of the schools, 18 have no buildings and some are faced with the shortage of professional teachers.
About health facilities, the official said there were 11 heath centres in the district and called for construction work on a 50-bed hospital in the district centre to be expedited.
He said construction work on the hospital was launched two years ago and so far 60 percent had been completed and the rest should be completed soon.
Satisfied with the security situation, the district chief said the lack of electricity remained the major problem.
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