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.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why does it get so hot in Srinagar? Look around you and that is why.

Srinagar feels the heat of rapid and disorganized urbanization, says Ozair

(Ozair Nissar, 25, was born in Srinagar and received his school education from the New Era School and the Tyndale Bisoce Memorial School. He received his Bachelor's degree from the Sri Pratap College, and his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Kashmir. He completed a training course in video production from the University of Pune and directed a documentary titled, "Kamwashika," at the same university. Currently, he is working as a senior correspondent for the Daily Etalaat, having worked previously for other local dailies. He enjoys listening to music, reading and writing.)

5 lakh souls squeezed in 11.4 sq km

Ozair Nissar

Srinagar: As the authorities are lobbying for a metropolitan status for the twin capitals of the state, Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu Kashmir, presents a dismal picture on ground.

Besides lacking basic infrastructure, the city does not conform to the requirements of a metro city and is too congested to get a metro status, for it houses more than 450 persons per hectare which is double than normal standard for metro cities.

“Due to the rapid urbanization, about five lakh souls of Srinagar city live on just 11.4 sq km area with a population density of about 450 persons per hectare against a normal standard of 175 persons (maximum) for metro cities,” according to an official document released here during a two-day workshop on Community Participation in Rain Water Harvesting and Water Conservation.

The document maintains that problem of rapid urbanization, uncontrolled extraction of sand and other river bed material is playing havoc with all water bodies in Kashmir which has drastically changed the total hydrology and morphology of these water bodies thereby accelerating the siltation.

“Due to scarce land availability, people have indiscriminately resorted to encroaching on water bodies and rapidly converting them into residential colonies and other commercial establishments by filling earth excavated from the karewa lands,” reveals the document.This on one hand reduces the wetland areas and on the other causes tremendous ecological disaster due to vandalizing of the karewas.

The document suggests vertical development of the colonies and residential houses to stop encroachment on water bodies and vanishing karewas.

“Due to the social set up in Kashmir people only go for horizontal development and all dwelling units are constructed individually. There is a need for major change in the state’s housing policy, and we should go for vertical expansion to stop encroachment on water bodies and vanishing of karewa lands.”

Besides mentioning the status of water bodies in and around Srinagar the document explains the high levels of degradation and siltation of water bodies in other districts of the Valley, which has drastically reduced the water retention efficiency of these channels leading to untimely floods and droughts.

“In the districts of Baramulla and Kupwara, the main Pohru basin is having highly degraded catchment and causes tremendous siltation en-route. Out of its total catchment of 1.89 lakh hectares about 0.64 lakh hectare is highly degraded and just 0.28 lakh hectare (43.75 percent) has been treated leaving thereby 0.36 lakh hectare (56.25 percent) which is still required to be treated,” the document says.

It says that due to reduction in forest cover, the penetration rate of rain water has reduced drastically which has caused tremendous reduction in time of concentration and “it is mainly because of this reason that we often face sporadic flood like situation even with a slight precipitation.”

“If the deforestation and this extraction of river bed material and filling of water bodies goes unabated, a major ecological disaster in the Valley is imminent,” maintains the document.

No comments: