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.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Harmony between nature and people is the best example of Kashmiriyat

Saleem hails the efforts to minimize ecological damage from pilgrims on way to Amarnathji Shrine

(Mr. Mohammad Saleem Beg, 58, was born and raised in Srinagar. He was educated at the S.P. College and the Gandhi Memorial College, receiving his Bachelor's degree from the latter. He was awarded a EEC fellowship in 1998 which allowed him to attend study courses at Universities of Luven, Belgium, and Trinity College, Dublin. Mr. Beg entered the State government service in 1975 and retired in 2006 as the Director General of Tourism. In the 31 years of public service (which included two deputation assignments in New Delhi), Mr. Beg promoted local arts and crafts, and raised public awareness of Kashmir's rich heritage and architecture. He was a leading figure in getting Srinagar listed as one of the 100 most threatened heritage cities by the World Monument Fund in 2008. Mr. Beg has traveled extensively and has attended numerous conferences, including the 1997 UN Special Session on Environment in New York, and the 1997 Kyoto Convention on Climate Change in Japan. His articles and essays have been published in various publications. Since retirement, he has remained active as the Convener of the J&K Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage - INTACH.)

INTACH hails constitution of SASB’s environment panel

Srinagar: Stating that the controversy over Amarnath yatra overshadowed the real issues pertaining to ecology and environment of Kashmir valley, Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Jammu & Kashmir Chapter has hailed the decision of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to constitute a committee for carrying out environment impact assessment.

Stressing on the need to pursue and support the study, Convenor INTACH, M Saleem Beg in a statement issued to Rising Kashmir said the constitution of a committee for preservation of environment on the route leading towards the cave shrine is a much delayed, but a welcome decision.

“This decision reflects the sincerity of the present board to ensure that the real concerns of the society are addressed removing the clouds of recent politicization of the yatra,” he added.

INTACH while complimenting the Shrine Board for addressing the environmental concerns has demanded that the board should notify the detailed terms of reference for the study incorporating the restoration of areas like conservation of the forests, the catchments of Lidder and Sind river, impact assessment of Kolhai and Thajiwas glaciers.

“The study also needs to carry environment impact assessment of annual Amarnath yatra and other tourist traffic with a view to arrive at the bearing capacity of these ecologically sensitive areas. The study must draw up a plan for carrying sustainable pilgrim and leisure tourism related activities which will serve the long term interest of environment, ecology and livelihood of the host community,” a statement issued by INTACH reads.

The committee is headed by Sunita Narain, Director Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). “CSE in the past campaigned and crusaded for many environmental protection policies and programs under the able leadership of Sunita Narain,” the statement reads.

INTACH has expressed hope that CSE will conduct a public hearing while preparing the report.

“Further the study must be conducted on a time bound schedule with due backup support of government and non governmental agencies,” INTACH statement adds.
Expressing concern over the degradation of ecology in the valleys around Amarnath shrine, the statement reads the Lidder and Sind river are a perennial source of glacier waters which sustain life in Kashmir. The catchments area of these two rivers, 46 kms long in Lidder valley and 6 kms long in Sind river have been reduced to degraded and barren wastelands due to human intervention.

“Though these areas are demarcated and protected forests, the State Government has criminally neglected its obligation for their conservation and protection,” the statement reads.

“These two river valleys are critical to environmental and food security of Kashmir and therefore implementation of the decision to commission CSE for preparation of a broad based Conservation plan will remain under keen scrutiny by civil society and other environmental groups,” INTACH statement adds.

No comments: