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

A Road to Nowhere

Musavirr narrates a tale of official apathy and bad engineering

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 27, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Budgam-Humhama road

OMPORA BUDGAM: It took Roads and Buildings (R&B) department officials no time to pack up their machinery from a six-kilometer road from Budgam to Humhama, where they were carrying out repairs for the last five months. A small patch of dilapidated road, work having been left mid way, tells a tale about the work culture of our government officials. The machinery has been removed from the site and the road left in its previous position. Several pot-holes have not been filled, so are the banks on this road.

After a quite long delay the state government had come up with some proposal of road maintenance of Budgam-Humhamma road but road widening as promised was no way seen on the ground. It was long negligence of the successive state governments to implement the assurance of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to make Budgam-Humhamma road four lane.

No doubt the work started on this important road five months ago but several areas on this six kilometer patch remain even untouched. At some places road maintenance team had put three layers of macadam but at several places not a single layer of macadam has been used.

Earlier, the road was given a new look when Congress leader Rajesh Pilot, the then union minister, had personally intervened. The new look could not last long as the condition of the road deteriorated later with every passing day.

The Budgam-Humhamma road should have been in its best conditions as the same road connects a district headquarter with the summer capital. The road is not only meant for the residents of Budgam but for those hundreds and thousands of employees who have to move daily from various districts to this headquarter.

The diversion road is also in the worst condition. People feel very uneasy to travel via that place. Mohammed Shaban a resident of Ompora said, "This is most unfortunate that after several years, work was started on this road and without maintaining or repairing it completely they have wound up their machinery. Authorities knew that in Kashmir due to winters, roads can not be macadamized; still they wasted several months and at the end left the road in same condition".

Abu Maahin another resident of Ompora added, "I fail to understand that to whom the district administration have provided the contract. Most of the time the workers were sitting idle. Due to their slow pace they were not able to complete six kilometers in long span of five months".

Most of the residents of the area claim that the main cause of damage to the road is due to the CRPF headquarter and armed police colony which are just few meters apart from each other.

A senior engineer of the same area added, "The road engineering is totally wrong. Usually the road should be above in height than its surroundings but in Budgam-Humhama road condition is totally opposite. The sediments from the two sides of the road worsen the condition of the road".

He further added that the drainage system made on this road also seems of no importance as it is so weak and narrow that it will be blocked within no span of time. "I think government has handed over the contract of the road to wrong and inexperienced people". A contractor who was working on this road on anonymity said, "On October 25 we were asked by authorities to wind up the work. It was all due to hartals and curfews which delayed the work and at the end everything remained incomplete. We will definitely start work on this road next April".

He said, "The areas which were not maintained during the last months will be definitely macadamised so that the people do not face any trouble. In addition the workers who were with us initially left the valley and then we faced shortage of workers also".

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