A non descript village in the Poonch district of the Union Territory [UT] of J&K, Pir Topa has only about 30-35 houses with a population of approximately 250-300. Its residents belong to the traditional grazier Gujjar and Bakkarwal community and their main source of income is from livestock. This area is remote and lacks road connectivity with the Deera ki Gali [DKG] – Bafliaz Road [also known as the ‘Mughal Road’]. In addition, Pir Topa doesn’t have any hospital or dispensary, primary school, electricity or water storage facilities.
Like people in other remote areas, the older generations of Pir Topa may have adjusted themselves to a primitive way of life as well as lack of basic amenities and opportunities. However, the present generation is more aware and aspires for better educational facilities and access to other civic conveniences. With the center along with state and UT administrations working on a war footing to provide basic amenities and infrastructure, such expectations from the impoverished people of Pir Topa is but natural.
Appreciating the legitimate aspirations of its residents, Udhampur based Northern Command of that Indian Army has taken the considered decision of ‘adopting’ and making the frontier Pir Topa a model village as part of its Sadhbhavana project. Working in close coordination with the UT and district administrations, the Army plans to undertake various projects to make PirTopa a model village in the region.
Accordingly, this village will see a host of developmental initiatives in the next three years in the field of infrastructural development, health, education, human resource and skill development. While construction of a road to connect Pir Topa with the DKG-Bafliaz Mughal Road will greatly improve accessibility, provision of water storage facilities and execution of a solar energy project will provide running water and reliable source of electricity to the villagers.
The setting up of a vocational training centre will be an invaluable asset that will provide the youth with the basic competence to acquire requisite skills and thereby enhance their employment prospects. Regular conduct of medical and veterinary camps will facilitate timely medical attention to the villagers and their livestock respectively while a community centre with indoor recreational facilities will provide an opportunity for people of all ages to congregate and interact with each other.
‘Adoption’ of Pir Topa by the Indian Army for making it a model village isn’t the first such initiative. On the contrary, it’s part of an ongoing process of the Indian Army’s untiring and multifaceted outreach to improve the habitat and quality of life of locals living in remote areas.
The deluge of success stories reported by highly reputed and independent sources recounting how thousands of people living in far-flung areas in both the UT of J&K and Ladakh have benefitted from the Sadhbhavana project speaks for itself and as such this public oriented welfare project deserves due appreciation.