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

Kashmir's Roads are a Disgrace

The report in the Kashmir Images discusses how Kashmir is turning into a cesspool fed by greed and corruption

‘Not rain and snow, blame corruption for ditches and potholes of roads’

Srinagar: Though the condition of roads in entire Valley was never satisfactory, the recent rains and snow have defaced and damaged them completely.

Obviously, the government is once again the butt of ridicule with people squarely blaming the corruption in various agencies for the miserable condition of roads.

And if the huge ditches and potholes in the roads and streets across the Valley are taken as a pointer, people’s allegations are not unfounded!

“Since the road construction is done with substandard material in connivance with and with active support and patronage of corrupt engineers, there is no wonder that these roads do not stand even minor weather vagaries,” says Altaf Ahmed, a civil engineer.

“Just give me the name of a single road or street in Srinagar which has withstood the recent rains and snow,” asked Altaf, adding “and it should not be difficult to understand what will be condition of roads elsewhere in the Valley, particularly in the countryside if the condition of the roads in capital city is so pathetically miserable.”

“It is difficult to walk on the roads here and one can only imagine how difficult it is to drive when there are ditches and potholes everywhere,” says Ajaz Ahmed, who works as a draftsman with one of the engineering wings of the government.

“Let me confess that in Kashmir there is no concept of road construction,” adds Ajaz, and “of course the rampant corruption in various engineering wings here only adds to the misery as the concerned agencies never bother to look what kind of material is being used in laying roads, nor do they ensure that the contractors adhere to the prescribed specifications.”

“It’s true, because you have to understand that Kashmir is not the only place where it snows, in fact in Europe and US or Canada the snowfall as well as cold season is much more severe, but you will never see the roads and streets getting damaged there,” says a retired civil engineer, who didn’t want to be named for obvious reasons.

“…and once you compare the situation here with that elsewhere in the developed world, of course you will see that it is the rampant corruption and not rain or snow that is the culprit.”

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