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Posted at: Mar 21, 2017, 1:01 AM; last updated: Mar 21, 2017, 1:01 AM (IST)

Doda residents protest water charges

Doda residents protest water charges
Protesters raise slogans against the government outside the DC office in Doda. Tribune Photo

Our Correspondent

Doda, March 20

Residents of the mountainous Doda district today held a massive protest demonstration against the government and the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department. They demanded that the decision of tax collection from villagers be revoked.

Hundreds of villagers from Dar-Dashnan, Mandole Dadole and Koti areas gathered outside Doda Deputy Commissioner’s residence this morning and raised slogans against the government and the PHE Department.

“Most people living in Doda villages are poor and they are not in a position to pay the charges. However, the PHE employees are going from door to door to collect the water charges. Moreover, they are threatening the residents of disconnection, if they fail to pay the water bill,” Farooq Ahmed, former sarpanch of Dashnan, said.

“Why do we have to pay charges when there is no water supply for months? We are totally dependent on the natural resources of water in Dar-Dashnan, Mandole, Dadole, Koti and people have to walk miles to fetch drinking water,” a protester said.

Meanwhile, protesters blocked the Jammu-Doda national highway for about half an hour and threatened to launch an agitation if the decision of tax collection was not revoked with immediate effect. However, the senior officials of the administration reached the spot and assured the protesters of early solution to their demands.

Technical Officer, PHE Department, Doda Hafizullah said, “We are just doing our job and charging Rs 820 per connection for a year in rural areas and Rs 1,610 in urban areas. However, we will continue our job of bill collection until the government takes a new decision on the issue.”

He added, “If there was no water then why didn’t they protest earlier? Why protest now when we are collecting water charges? Moreover, a circular has been issued to government employees to pay water charges before withdrawing their salaries.”

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