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.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Earthquakes Topple More Than Homes: In Kashmir, Deep Water Wells Were Also Destroyed

Ozair describes the stark reality of an impending water crisis in the valley

(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.)

Srinagar: The October 2005 quake not only caused havoc in Kashmir but some 60 water supply schemes also got totally vanished or drastically depleted, an official document has revealed.

The document released here during a two-day workshop on Community Participation in Rain Water Harvesting and Water Conservation by district superintending Engineer (Hydraulic) says that Kashmir is facing an acute shortage of drinking water due to myriad reasons, the 2005 quake being one.

"Out of 60 deep tube wells drilled for water supply in the districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora, four (23.34 percent) have been rendered totally defunct thus abandoned, while 15 tube wells (25 percent) have shown depletion in discharge by about 30 to 50 percent," says the document.

Highlighting the ramifications of increased deforestation and lack of measures to harvest rain water on major fruit producing areas of the Valley, the document says that Sopore and Baramulla towns which form the major hub of horticulture activities get water supply for 30 minutes to 2 hours a day.

With precipitation rates getting reduced by about 30 to 40 percent during the last 50 years, Kashmir which is full of abundant natural water resources is also facing tremendous reduction in precipitation rate causing drastic depletion in the water assets as a result of which the Valley faces drought like situation at times.

Urging the need to make judicious use of water the document maintains that a drop of water saved per second from a leaking pipe can yield about 9 litres of water per day which is sufficient for 6 people for their drinking purposes at 1.5 litres each."

By keeping one public stand post (P.S.P) open for 24 hours and discharging at just 5 litres per minute can quench the thirst of 4800 souls at 1.5 litres/ capita/ day or can serve the water requirements for 180 people at 40 litres /capita/day," adds the document.

According to the document district Baramulla is having an annual average rain fall of about 750 mm out of which about 450 mm rain fall occurs during off- irrigation season from December to April, which can be easily conserved and stored to meet peak demands in summer from July to September."

If just 10 percent out of this rain fall in off- irrigation season, which generally flows waste and unutilized, is harvested and conserved, it will generate about 85 million cubic meters of water in Pohru basin alone having catchment area of 1.89 lac hectares which will serve a yearly water requirement of about 5.82 million people at 40 litres / capita /day, the rate at which the water supply schemes are designed in rural areas."

"If this quantum of additional harvested rain water is used for irrigational purposes, it will stabilize about additional 2000 hectares of paddy land which would generate additional annual income of about 300 million rupees," the document adds.

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