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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When public funds vanish surreptitiously at the source (Srinagar and Jammu cities) there is not much left to develop far-flung hamlets

One has to wonder: with an annual state budget of around Rs. 20,000 crores, why do villages like Patwari never see any progress?

In "Khush-hal" Kashmir, Handwara village lacks all facilities

Ashiq Hussain (Kashmir Images)

Handwara: While development and prosperity have become buzz words of officialdom here, at least 1800 souls inhabiting Patwari village, merely ten kilometers from Handwara township are deprived of basic amenities of life. The village has no road; no pure drinking water and no electricity.

As if this was not enough, the poor village is also debarred of a health center as well and the only educational institution -a primary school – is housed in two rooms. Feeling ignored on part of authorities, the village people allege that the official apathy has rendered their lives miserable and that in this hi-tech world, they were living a nomadic life.

The disgruntled villagers maintain that in the recent past, two sick persons Mohammed Sultan Bhat and Abdul Gani Sheikh died as they couldn’t reach Handwara hospital well in time. Mohammad Sultan had fallen down from a tree and according to locals due to non-availability of road; they carried him on shoulders (on Charpai) but he succumbed to injuries in the half way en-route to hospital. The locals maintain that seriously ailing, Abdul Gani also died as they failed to rush him to the hospital in time. It is to mention that in absence of a health center in the area, the locals have to avail even the first aid facilities from district hospital Handwara. And due to non-availability of road facility, the ailing people suffer the most.

The problems of poor villagers do not end here. There is no water supply facility and the women folk have to walk miles to fetch water from Nallah Kehmil. And when it downpours, the locals are forced to consume contaminated water from open Nallah, which is the only source of water in the area. “Our women leave homes early to fetch water and it takes them hours to get a bucket of water. The only source of water is Nallah Kehmil and when it rains, the locals are forced to consume muddy waters from the Nallah," said Mohammad Dilawar, a local.

The village is also debarred of electricity facility since years. The electric lines lying suspended on poplar and other trees for last many years are being used by locals for drying up clothes. The residents still illuminate their houses by kerosene run chimneys and candles. “It was in 1996 that PDD tied lines not on electric poles but on trees. However, it proved to be an exercise in deception as village has never seen electricity till date,” said another local, adding, the residents even made many representations to the executive engineer, PDD Handwara for the facility but to no avail.

When asked for his comments, DC Kupwara, Khan Isfandyar Kachoo told Kashmir Images that he has already received complaints from the village people and he will pay a visit to the village to see for himself what could be done.“I will pay a visit to the village soon and also a meeting with Tehsildar and other officers will be held to actually explore the possibilities to establish a road connectivity to the village. The village was part of Magam and later has become a separate village and that is why it is not in the eyes of administration,” Kachoo said.

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