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, June 21, 2008

Election Time Mania in Kashmir: Politicians and Print Media Whip up Communal Hysteria

What are exact terms of the State land transfer to the Sri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB)? The answer is in the State Cabinet Decision 94/7 dated 20th May 2008

Cabinet decision clear about land transfer

Srinagar : The Cabinet decision number 94/7 dated May 20,2008 clearly mentions that sanction is accorded to the diversion of forest land measuring 39.88 hectares falling under compartment No 63/Sindh, in Block Kullan, Range Sindh, Sindh Forest Division for raising pre-fabricated structures only for camping purposes of pilgrims, without going in for construction of permanent structures, at Baltal and Domail by SASB.

The decision further said the proprietary status of forest land shall remain unchanged, land so diverted shall be utilised only for the purpose for which it has been diverted, it shall not be transferred to any other agency without approval of the Forest Department. The land shall not be mortgaged, reassigned or sub-leased by user agency in any manner to any other agency.

The Cabinet decision said the SASB shall pay net present value of the forest land to the tune of Rs 2,31,30,400 as calculated by the concerned DFO as per the Supreme Court Order dated 30-10-2002 in I A number 566 in Writ Petition (Civil) number 202 of 1995 T N Godavarman Thirumalpad V/S Union of India. It said user agency shall pay Rs 19,94,000 on account of Compensatory Afforestation to be carried over 79.76 hecters.

The user agency shall take fullproof measures on modern scientific lines to ensure that water of nearby Sindh Nallah does not get polluted. Any damage done to the forest by the user agency, its employees contractors people employed by them shall be charged from the user agency at the rate of ten times the standard rate of 1992. The forest land so diverted shall return to the Forest Department free of any encumbrances when it is no loger required by the User Agency.

The SASB shall construct complete retaining breast walls on the both sides of the road, railway line, earthy work and tunneling and take other necessary steps, so as to minimize soil erosion and land slips. The decision said the SASB shall seek technical guidance from Director, state Soil Conservation Department and it shall also pay any other amount which will become payable as per orders of the Supreme Court or state government or Forest Department and it shall be responsible to get requisite clearance under any other relevant law in vogue.

The SASB shall take all possible environmental safe guards in consultation with the State Pollution Control Board prior to erection of the pre-fabricated structures and their use by the pilgrims ensure that no damage is caused to ecology of the area.

The proposal stands cleared by the Advisory Committee in its 39th meeting held under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary on July 12, 2007, the cabinet decision said.

(Kashmir Monitor)

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