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.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The End is Near

Irreversible environmental changes are affecting Kashmir

Wular wetland may disappear in 7 yrs: Environmentalist

Mir Tariq (Rising Kashmir)

Bandipora: The world famous Wular wetland reserve, according to environmentalist, may disappear from the scene in next seven years if government continues to ignore it.

The number of migratory birds visiting the wetland is already witnessing a decline.
The area of the wetland reserve, second largest in Asia, has decreased from 157.74 sq kms to 58.71 sq kms from 1911 to 2008.

Experts said that the unchecked encroachment by the locals and government departments has led to reduction of 45 percent of the wetland area. “It is badly affecting the habitat of migratory birds visiting the wetland from November to March,” they said.

It has been recently estimated that 60,000 kanals of wetland area has been encroached upon in the catchment villages of Sonawari, Bandipora, Watlab, Nigili and Sopore. Some of the reclaimed marshlands measuring about 25 sq kms have been transformed into willow plantations by the state government through social forestry while some areas have been transformed into permanent paddy fields.

Environmentalists warned that wetlands in the state especially Wular wetland are rapidly shrinking due to official apathy and rampant encroachment, endangering thousand of animals and migratory birds.

Wular used to host more than 30,000 migratory birds from different countries, but wildlife experts said that the number of winged visitors is slowly declining.
An environmentalist, Iftikhar Rashid Wani warned that if government continues to neglect the wetland, Wular wetland will vanish in next five to seven years.

Wild Life Warden Wetlands (WLWW), Muhammad Maqbool Baba, admitted that there has been a widespread encroachment in the Wular wetland reserve. “Yes, people of the area have encroached upon a large part of the wetland. We have taken steps to retrieve it,” said Baba.

He said, “Obviously Wular Wetland is shrinkage in size and the shallow water may have an impact on the winged birds visiting wetland every year. Such an affect is not visible”.

The guards, who are working in wetland from previous five years said that due to encroachment the number of migratory birds visiting the wetland is on decline.

An aged guard, Mushtaq Ahmad, who has seen lakhs of winged visitors arrive in the wetland, said that lesser number of winged birds are now visiting Wular wetland. “Since the space is shrinking due to encroachment, the birds have to compete and fight with each other for occupying space,” he added.

No comments: