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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Preserving State's Wetlands

Basharat describes a new initiative from the Department of Wildlife

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 28, was born in Kreeri, Baramulla, and did his schooling in Kreeri, and later in Uri and Sopore. He graduated from the Degree College in Baramulla and completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 2005. He has been a reporter for Kashmir Images, a Srinagar based daily, London based website Gaashonline.Com, and a Srinagar based journal, Globe. Currently, he is working as a special correspondent with Jammu based daily newspaper, The Kashmir Times.)

Wildlife deptt designing multi-crore project for J&K wetlands

Srinagar: Department of Wildlife has designed a multi-crore developmental programme for State Wetland Reserves, which despite being in shambles; attract thousands of migratory birds from various parts of the globe during winter.

The department may include the world famous wetland reserve Gharana which is situated at the Indo-Pakistan international border in Ranbirsingh Pura sector in Jammu. Plagued by massive silting and encroachment, this worldfamous Gharana wetland reserve, is dying a slow death.

Besides being a temporary home to a large number of migratory birds it attracts thousands of bird lovers and tourists who visit this place to witness the chirping of birds during the winters. Over 50,000 birds flock to the Gharana bird sanctuary during the period from October to March every year.

Unchecked encroachment by the local farmers coupled with excessive mining of the area by the army has reduced the size of wetland to almost half its official size of 0.75 sq kilometers. Most of the birds like Grey Key Goose, Shoverler, Marclands, Poachards, Teals and Gadwal are from Central Asia and northern Europe come to Gharana bird sanctuary to escape the harsh winters, said an officer of the wild life department.

According to a survey 50-67 species of birds, including some rare and endangered species like Siberian hens, Keel, Buck, Common Coot, Grey Heron and Little Grebe from New Zealand, America, Australia and Pakistan fly to Gharana wetland every year. Now for proper management of this reserve, the wildlife department has planned a comprehensive ‘programme to develop the wetland reserve. A wildlife official wishing not be named said that his department has planned a comprehensive management programme of 6.6 crore rupees and it has been sent to ministry of environment and forests which has a special scheme for the development of

Wetlands are among the most important life support systems for a large species of birds, yet two-thirds of these wetlands in Kashmir have been reportedly destroyed since 1950s. The surviving wetlands are among the threatened natural \areas and are in need of serious protection and preservation. The migratory birds fly in groups over continents in search of food.They travel long distances to inhabit amenable environments on seasonal basis.

During their six-month long stay in India, many of the birds lay eggs and bring up the chicks till they are capable to unde rtake journey back home. Environmentalists too warn that wetlands in the state are rapidly shrinking due to official apathy and rampant encroachment, endangering thousand of animals and migratory birds.

The state boasts of 16 wetlands, seven of them are in Jammu regions, experts predict that these will vanish in around three to four years if the authorities continue to neglect them.

Gharana hosted 20,000 migratory birds coming from different countries last year, but wildlife experts warn that the number of winged visitors is slowly declining.

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