Young Bites. Dated: 2/13/2020 10:42:17 AM

Union home ministry announced the construction of 14,460 bunkers for people living near the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018 . The 13,029 individual bunkers and 1,431 community bunkers, to shelter civilians escaping crossborder shelling, were to come up in the districts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Poonch and Rajouri at an estimated cost of Rs 415.73 crore. While an individual bunker can shelter up to eight people, community bunker can accommodate around 40 people. In the wake of cease fire voilations by Pakistan, Home Ministry called for “expediting the construction of bunkers”. In Rajouri and Poonch, which are along the Line of Control and more than half of the bunkers are to be built. Villagers living along the border are always on edge, fearing “something can happen anytime”. Flora in Jammu’s Ranbir Singh Pura is one of the villages closest to the International Border. In 2016, a community bunker was built here which can accommodate nearly 50 people. Flora has a population of about 850. Flora is a largely farming village of brightly painted concrete houses. Most of the families have their land beyond the fence erected by India to demarcate the border. When the border is tense, they avoid going into their fields. The village has seen heavy shelling in past, forcing most residents to abandon their homes and take shelter in a school in Ranbir Singh Pura. Tension hangs thick in the air most of the times, the Peer Baba shrine at nearby Abdullian village is deserted. The Sufi shrine, which stands beside a temple, is usually crowded with devotees, both Hindu and Muslim. Since the border conflict remains there, barely anybody has visited. While the construction of bunkers began smoothly in Jammu, Samba and Kathua, which are along the International Border, the project was delayed in Poonch and Rajouri. According to local officials, the primary reason was the estimated cost. As per the central government’s norms, a community bunker must be constructed at a cost of Rs 8 lakh and an individual bunker at Rs 2.4 lakh. As per latest data, 6225 bunkers have been completed so far in the division including 5628 individual bunkers and 597 community bunkers. 1369 bunkers including community and individual bunkers have been completed in district samba, 955 in district Jammu, 1230 in district Kathua, 2109 in district Rajouri, 562 in district Poonch have been completed. The construction of bunkers should be the utmost priority of the government because the safety of villagers living along borders is the prime concern.


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