Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kashmir's Lakes: Where Greed and Environmental Negligence Swim Together

Yes, LAWDA is corrupt and highly inefficient, but have you seen those illegal homes built by houseboat owners behind their houseboats in Dal Lake on improperly reclaimed land along with a mobile phone tower?


Srinagar, February 20: Hundreds of houseboat owners today took to the streets demanding that all the water bodies in the Kashmir Valley should be handed over to any foreign company for their conservation.

Marching through different streets from famous Nehru Park in the Dal Lake to civil lines here, the houseboat owners of Dal, Nigeen, Chinar Bagh and river Jehlum alleged that Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) had failed to restore the pristine glory of the water bodies, particularly Dal Lake. ''Hand over the water bodies to any foreign company before it is too late,'' they demanded.

The LAWDA had completely failed to deliver what was expected from it, they said, adding it was responsible for the degradation of the Dal and Nigeen lakes since it took over the control of the water bodies.

They also rejected the Socio-Economic Survey conducted by the Urban Environmental Engineering Department (UEED) in 1986, identifying a number of residential or other structures existing in the Dal basin. ''The survey conducted has now become irrelevant as the demographic index with regards to the family units and the size of population of Dal dwellers has gone up since,’’ they said.

Demanding immediate stop of dismantling houses and other structures in the Lake by LAWDA and other agencies, they said the entire population living there should first be shifted and rehabilitated elsewhere. More than 3.5 lakh trees and hundreds of illegal houses and other structures were razed to ground by the authorities in the Dal Lake and Chinar Bagh during the past one year.


Are you serious about the conservation of our vanishing lakes and other water bodies?

If you are, then come and join us for
Creating awareness &
mobilize public support for the
Preservation of our precious lakes and other water bodies.
All men and women of conscience, including students, are invited to participate
in a peaceful rally organized by the Houseboat owners association
to endorse support to this noble cause.
the rally will start from Nehru Park and will end at Press colony,
Partap Park, Regal Chowk Srinagar.

Some of the salient features of this rally are:
  • Demand identification and demarcation of territorial limits of Dal and Nigeen Lake as the same is in consonance with the directions issued by the Hon'ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • LAWDA should come up with a model of the Dal Lake as it should look after its restoration which should be made public in print and electronic media. The much hyped master plan of which the conservation of Dal, Nigeen, River Jehulm and Chunti Koul is a part has become redundant since these were designated as protected water bodies by law.
  • Immediate rehabilitation of all such families who are willing to shift from Dal, Nigeen, River Jehlum and Chinar Bagh voluntarily.
  • Immediate ban on use of all polythene and plastic material in an around the water bodies. The orders of the Hon'ble High Court against the import of this hazardous and harmful material to the valley though in place or not being implemented in letter and spirit. We suggest that a mobile judge be deputed who will monitor the complaints of these orders by law enforcing agencies of the state.
  • Immediate cessation of dredging along the western foreshore road of Dal Lake by LAWDA as this has plugged many natural springs found on the lake bed. Similarly, filling of land with so excavated mud and slush in the area under dredging by the authority be stopped forthwith.
  • Install drainage systems with septic tanks which will cater to all the houseboats.
    Plug all live drainage pipes around the peripheries of our water bodies which are dumping harmful effluents round the clock.
  • Immediate widening of backwater channels of Dal Lake, leading to Rainawari and Naidyar to make these functional again for a smooth movement of boat traffic.
  • Restore the former needle type system of water gates at Dalgate, Nallah Amir-Khan and at Brari Nambal immediately as the iron shatters/gates have adversely affected and impeded the normal outflow of these water reservoirs.
  • If all else fails and options run out to preserve our water bodies, we demand that their conservation be handed over to some private firm or to a foreign agency or agencies who have the requisite expertise and technology for accomplishing the job rather than allow it lingering before it is too late.
  • All participants to bring along with them banners or placards, if any, in the proposed rally.

It is a historical facts that Houseboats and the conservation of Dal, Nigeen, Chunti Kul and River Jehlum have a strong correlation and same is, therefore, indispensable. As such, all houseboat, prepared to fully cooperate with conservation plan. For that, the Houseboat Owners Association has more suggestions we shall be made public in due course of time.

Similar rallies will be organized same day in national capital and other Western cities to highlight the importance of preserving our endangered water bodies.

So, with an unfailing commitment and sincerity purpose we appeal to you to join your hands with us and show your resolve for the preservation and conservation of our heritage for our future generations.

Contact Numbers are:
+91-0194-2450326 Mobile: 09906735715
Mohd. Azim Tomal, Chairman
Houseboat Owners Association

No comments: