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, January 19, 2009

Another Disaster in the Making

Basharat pokes into details about the Solid Waste and sees a disaster over the horizon

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 29, 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.)

Srinagar's chaotic solid waste management turning into unmanageable crisis

Srinagar: Brazen violation of master plan, high urbanisation ratio coupled with the poor infrastructure has made Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Jammu and Kashmir a classic example of chaotic situation. The experts in the field believe that if not redressed in time, the situation may turn into an unmanageable crisis.

Srinagar district alone produces 350 metric tones of solid waste every day and the same quantity is generated by the district Jammu, said an officer in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). For this garbage, the SMC has only one land fill site (spread at 620 Kanlas of land) at Achen Saidapora in outskirts of Srinagar, where a 50,000 population is caught with no alternative, but to tolerate this 'nuisance'.
Health officer SMC, Dr Shafqat Khan, who is also a renowned expert in Solid Waste Management believes that unchecked urbanisation ratio in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the major causative agents of this SWM mess in the State.

"Our State's urbanisation ratio is 16.5 per cent while the same is 7 per cent at national level. With the rise in economic growth, the per capita waste generation has increased to 0.285 Kilograms in Srinagar. You can imagine the effects of this unplanned urbanisation," said Dr Khan, who is the member of Sweden based International Solid Waste Association and Jaipur based Indian Solid Waste Association.

Sources in the Jammu municipality revealed that there is no land fill site in this district and the Solid Waste along with the bio medical wastes is chucked on the banks of river Tawi.

Despite the latest trends framed by the World Bank and the union ministry for housing and urban development,ΓΏ Jammu and Kashmir lags behind in addressing the water and sanitation mission which talks of sanitary land fills for cities and a common sanitary landfill for regional levels.

Since there are no designated waste collection points in colonies, no designated space for installing dust bins in Srinagar, sources believe that government hardly bothers to address this grave issue. "There are only 100 dust bins in Srinagar district and in Jammu it may be 175. But there are no landfill sites at district levels. An order for another 50 dust bins was placed by the SMC but in view of their sub standard quality the entire process was stalled," sources added.

According to Dr Khan, unless the government addresses this issue with top priority, nothing will improve on the ground. "Like in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Hyderabad where the respective Municipal Corporations have a memorandum of understanding with various foreign agencies including many Non Governmental Organisations for Solid Waste Management, it would be a breakthrough if our State government take some steps on these lines," Dr Khan opined.

He added that in order to streamline the SWM in Jammu and Kashmir, there is a dire need of a comprehensive plan which will include identification of solid waste collection points. These points, he added, should be well covered and maintained as well.

"You know the present garbage collection points have turned into breeding grounds for stray animals especially for dogs which create another nuisance. This comprehensive plan will also include up gradation of tools and equipment with which the scavengers handle the collection of garbage," the SMC health officer added.
He said that it was imperative to improve the primary collections of solid waste at house hold level, besides seeking cooperation from the public through an awareness programme.

In Srinagar there are only 1700 Scavengers even though as per the municipal limits the minimum requirement of Scavengers for 316 square kilometers is 4500, said one SMC officer pleading anonymity.

"The less number of Scavengers in Kashmir is a violation of one of the rulings from Supreme Court in this regard. Leave aside the scavengers, we have only one garbage compactor in Srinagar what can you expect from the SMC people," sources added.
Dr Khan believes that the violation of master plan is also a factor which contributes to loopholes in SWM. "You can see commercial establishments have been raised in residential areas, besides multiplexes without parking lots. This all in one or the other way contribute to the Solid Waste nuisance," Dr Khan who is an expert in SWM observed.

He predicted that time is not far away when the State government will face a crisis like situation if it failed to address the Solid Waste Management problem at this Stage. "Converting existing landfills at Achen into an engineered sanitary landfill does not make SWM a cumbersome process but the same becomes a burden on the State exchequer," Dr Khan opined.

No comments: