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.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Death of a Lake

Ahansar Lake goes Dal way, LAWDA sleeping

Tanveen Kawoosa (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: Like all major Lakes in the valley, the famous Ahansar Lake is reeling under severe water pollution thereby hastening its journey towards death, warn ecologists. Despite being equally scenic as Manasbal and Wullar, the Lake does not seem to be the concern of any government agency. The Lake is situated in the flood plains of river Jhelum about 26km north – west of Srinagar in Safapora, Sumbal.

This shallow lake with maximum depth of 5.5m derives water mainly from springs spread over its basin. Over the last few decades the Lake has been losing its glory, yet it has not invited the attention of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) or any other government agency. According to sources, there is no conservation plan for the preservation of this Lake.

While presenting worrisome picture of the Lake, a research study conducted by Centre for Research Studies, University of Kashmir, states that the lake is fast turning into environmental nuisance owing to immense eutrophication(ageing of water body with high Biological Oxygen demand (BOD). The lake is likely to meet the same fate as that of Manasbal and Wullar. Tons of sewage from human habitations spews in to the Lake thereby affecting its aquatic life. Run-offs from agricultural fields, untreated domestic sewage are another major source of plant nutrients in the Lake thus disturbing its ecological balance. The nutrient pollution remains the most serious problem in aquatic bodies' worldwide. The excessive growth of algae leads to oxygen depletion and kills fish species.

In absence of proper sewerage system, solid waste is directly flushed into the Lake. Peripheral springs contributing to the Lake are being used by locals for washing utensils and clothes, the report adds. The study further points out that there is gradual decrease in the water depth which is attributed to silt and garbage deposits in the Lake. The present limnological (study of organisms living in water) study reveals that the Lake is showing persistent rise in pollution level as shown by the higher concentration of nitrogen and phosphorous in it.

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