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 14, 2009

Reconstructing the Tourist Reception Center (TRC)

Report that the gutted TRC building will be reconstructed along traditional Kashmiri architecture is reassuring

TRC reconstruction on heritage lines

Arif Shafi Wani (Greater Kashmir)

After three years of dilly-dallying tactics, the government has finally decided to reconstruct the gutted historic building of Tourist Reception Centre with traditional Kashmiri architecture and provide all facilities for tourist under one roof.

TRC was gutted in a fidayeen attack on April 6, 2005, a day before prime minister, Manmohan Singh, flagged of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service. The incident was highlighted extensively by the foreign media, which had gathered in the summer capital to cover the revival of the bus service.

The TRC incident had for months affected the inflow of tourists, particularly foreigners after some embassies issued travel advisories against visiting the Valley.

In 2006, the PDP-led coalition government had decided to construct a five-star hotel at the spot in the City center.

However, the proposal was shelved after it evoked strong resentment from the tourism pundits and opposition National Conference had strongly opposed the proposal in the Assembly.

Officials said on the directions of chief minister, Omar Abdullah, the authorities have started the process to prepare the TRC’s design.

The director Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah told Greater Kashmir that reputed architects have been asked to prepare the TRC’s design. “We will try to build the TRC on the pattern of its old design. The new TRC building will showcase the architecture and culture of Kashmir. It will be a blend of tradition with modern facilities,” Shah said.

The gutted TRC building housed many government offices and tourist utilities including, Fisheries and Wildlife department besides airline and railway reservation counters and a bank.

Since the TRC building fire, the Tourism department has been operating from hutments adjacent to the site. “Tourist will get all the facilities from booking to food under one roof in the new TRC building” Shah added.

Officials said a meeting would shortly be held under the chairmanship of commissioner secretary Tourism and Culture, Tanveer Jehan, to finalize modalities for the construction of TRC and upgrading tourism infrastructure.

Welcoming the proposal, the chairman of Houseboat Owners Association, Muhammad Azim Tuman, said the construction of TRC is imperative for promotion of Tourism. “TRC has been the face of Kashmir and first abode of tourist. It should be reconstructed on its old design,” Tuman said.

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