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, July 18, 2008

Another Good Reason why Kashmir Needs to Enact Environmental Protection Laws

Dairy plant spells doom to Cheshmashahi's ecology

Ishfaq Mir

Srinagar: Establishment of dairy plant at Cheshmashahi may have boosted the milk production in the Valley but the ecology of the area is severely getting damaged, sources said.

The renovation of the dairy plant at the picturesque location of Cheshmashahi by the then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Syed resulted in the commercialization of production of milk in the Valley but at the same time the environment of this famous tourist resort has come under serious ecological threat.

The location of this industrial unit in an ecologically sensitive area, the effluents and the residues that come from the processing technology each milk drop undergoes before it reaches the market has damaged the ecology of the area.

"We wonder how the government permitted the setting up of a dairy plant in this place which in no way is meant for any industrial activity. Nobody is monitoring the effects of this plant on the environment of the area. Had it been a private one, the owner would have been sacked," said the locals of Cheshmashahi.

The Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) is outdated, which allows the effluents (solid waste) to escape easily. Sources said that the residues are dumped into the inner forest areas of Cheshmashahi. "The residues of the milk production plants are extremely poisonous for the plants as well as animals. A small amount of the residue can destroy the ecology of 100 hectare green forest area within a week," said Mass Media Officer, Directorate of Ecology and Remote Sensing, Gurcharan Singh.

While State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) categorises the milk production plants into the 'red' category, the plant lacks the modern electric boilers which is much hazardous, experts say. "There is a categorization, according to which the different industrial set ups are put into three categories, red, yellow and orange. The milk plants are placed into the red zone. But it is not to be confused that it is dangerous enough. It is because a milk producing plant is sensitive enough in terms of the sewage it produces as it deals with food for humans," said SPCB Chairman, Mian Javed.

"Wood is used to run the boilers of the milk plant. This is harmful in two ways. One is that it causes air pollution and the second is that the boilers are not efficient enough to make the residues harm free for the environment," an official of the milk plant said pleading anonymity. While the proposed 60,000 LPD dairy plant never saw the light of the day, the plant at Cheshmashahi processes 9,000 litres of milk daily and is being marketed under the brand name 'Snow Cap' by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). The milk is being obtained from Anantnag, Budgam, Pulwama and Srinagar districts.

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