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.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why cannot people of Kashmir have clean drinking water? An amazing story of official apathy, neglect and injustice.

Funds released by GOI left unspent by JK babus

Afsana Rashid (The Daily Etalaat)

Srinagar, Feb 3: Funds released under various schemes by the Ministry of Rural Development (HRD), Government of India under Department of Drinking Water Supply (2005-07) to Jammu and Kashmir are utilized ineffectively as a hefty sum remains unspent. In this connection, three letters have been shot by the Ministry of Rural Development, to Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, Srinagar and Jammu and to Joint Director (P) PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Civil secretariat Jammu vide No. W-11014/11/2006-TM.II dated November 21, 2007, No. W. 11038/10/04-CCDU/DWS-IV dated July 23, 2007 and No. W.11038/10/04-CCDU/DWS-IV dated September 5, 2007 respectively.

“...A sum of Rs 93.72 lakh has been released during 2005-07 for the purpose of HRD capacity-building about safe drinking water among the rural areas in the state. However, it was observed that the funds have not been utilized effectively for the purpose and a good sum remained unspent over the year,” the letter to the PHE says.

The letter further adds that the objective of the programme activities should be focused on community-based approach involving state, district and village level evolving mechanism (that is, PRIs, NGOs, technical and educational institutions) and officials/works so as to ensure regular drinking water quality testing activities and reporting accordingly.

The contents of the letters marked to Joint Director (P) PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Civil secretariat Jammu reads that the guidelines of CCDU, para 6.2, specify the requirements that are to be complied with for release of funds by Government of India. The funds to the CCDU J&K were released accordingly specifying the terms and conditions in Annexure-I to the sanction letter. It is observed that these terms are not being complied by the CCDU. The audited statements of accounts for the years 2005-06 and 2006-07 have not been submitted. These statements should be sent to this office after getting the accounts audited by a Chartered Accountant duly approved by SWSM or state government. Utilization certificate (2005-06) and Action Plan (2007-08) are also not submitted yet.

Sources who did not wish to reveal their identity said that J&K state shows zero performance in this regard. No work, according to them, has been started to obtain complete school sanitation.

Sources added that political leaders deliberately create “myth” in their respective constituencies that they have been allotted no funds by the GoI for implementation of various schemes, which according to them is absolutely baseless.

According to them, Utilization Certificate has to be sent by the state government to GoI that provides way for further release of funds. “Sixty percent of the funds allotted in the first phase have to be spent necessarily. It is only after that that Utilization certificate can be send to GoI for the release of second instalment of funds. Utilization Certificate is just 2-3 lines statement,” reveal the sources.

They informed that despite having simple procedures to avail these facilities, Jammu and Kashmir state fail to spend the money sanctioned for the first phase, which is done deliberately. The remaining funds as such are withdrawn by the GOI and allotted to better performer (state) as an incentive.

“This is no injustice. If the amount is not utilized here it is better if other state uses that for developmental purposes. Otherwise there is a simple procedure involved for acquiring these schemes but Jammu and Kashmir state shows lack of will,” added the sources. “This is the biggest loss to people of state,” they argued.

Elaborating on the schemes available they said that these schemes are demand-driven and not supply driven. “People should be informed and made aware about these schemes so that they demand for these amenities. Government has to take onus of making people aware about these schemes,” they said.

“The state government is shy of spending money. There is no political will to do it and it is nobody’s concern. No competency or commitment is shown to spend this money that would prove beneficial for the community,” they added.Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU), according to the sources, came into being at all state level to implement various schemes offered by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. Consequently, CCDU started in J&K in 2004.

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