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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A City Where Government is Equally to Blame

From police headquarters to museum complex none have building permissions

‘Illegal’ sarkari buildings galore in capital

M. Hyderi (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Believe it or not, the state government has “illegally” constructed several multi-storied buildings in the city, as it didn’t get the requisite building permission from the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

The SMC officials say the buildings even violate the Master Plan adding that the city father Salman Sagar is expected to initiate a “legal action against the offenders”.

The “tainted” list includes the recently commissioned state-of-the-art police headquarters at Pir Bagh on the Airport road, the officials said. Even the Museum Complex on the Jhelum banks, which is getting finishing touches has been constructed without the SMC permission.

To mention, it’s vital for any building construction to have a clearance from the SMC, which gives the permission after a survey of the case though its specialized arm, the Building Organization Construction Authority (BOCA).

Police Headquarters:

The multistoried J&K Police Headquarters building, commissioned past month, officials say, not only lacks the SMC permission but brazenly violates the Master Plan. As against the 52 odd feet permissible height, the mega structure is around 80 feet tall. Moreover, the structure has popped up in a residential area which is in violation to the Master Plan, the officials said.

SMC says the police department didn’t even ever apply for the permission.

The Sangermaal:

Construction of Srinagar Development Authority owned – Sangermaal, the mega commercial shopping complex coming up at the city center is almost complete, but till now the SDA never sought a permission from the SMC.

The Hajj House:

The Hajj House at Bemina By-pass also lacks the building permission. If experts are to be believed the building constructed by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation also violates the Master Plan (2000-2021).

The Legislature Complex:

The SMC officials claimed that the Legislature Complex building, built in over two decades, has been constructed without taking the corporation into the confidence.The building was commissioned in July this year.“Basically the successive regimes neglected the role of corporation and so they never sought any permissions,” said a senior SMC official, requesting not to be named.

The Museum:

The state-of-the-art Museum building on the Jhelum banks near Lal Mandi which is yet to be commissioned also lacks the permission.

Is the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) sleeping?

Well why didn’t the corporation ever take action against such “illegal” constructions? “We apprized the government a number of times but no attention was paid to our requests,” said an SMC official.

Govt response:

A senior government official, however, says the SMC permission wasn’t required for such constructions.

“All these constructions had a nod from the government so there was no role of SMC,” opines an official.

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