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.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yes, Dal will die!

An editorial in the Kashmir Images makes a compelling case

Yes, Dal will die!

Lot of talk is being made preservation of environment, threats of pollutions, shrinking of Kashmir’s water bodies and threats to the ecological balance. Governments – both State as well as Centre – are pumping lots of money for preservation of Dal Lake. The Lake still continues to die inch by inch and one wonders where the money is going.

Whenever in Kashmir, Union Water Resource Minister, who claims restoration of Dal’s lost glory is his passion, talks about the Lake telling people how may crores have been spent and are being spend on the project but never tells them that as the digits of Dal budget go up so do the quantity of weeds, dirt and filth that poisons and kills it. Talking about restoration of Dal’s glory has become sort of fashionable, both for media, NGOs and the Government. You have to say something about Dal and you will be seen a genuinely concerned citizen. But unfortunately nobody goes to the roots of the problem.

The Government claims to be launching ‘sustained operations’ for cleaning the Lake but without giving a fig to the real problem. You keep cleaning and pollutants keep on polluting, how will the operation succeed? It seems the Government is taking one step forward and two backwards and the result therefore is anybody’s guess. Government fails to realize that its cleansing operation is less aggressive and potent than the subsequent polluting operation and unless the sources of pollution are taken care of, the Dal will continue to die no matter how many crores are spend in the unfortunate Lake’s name.

As per the records available with State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), 70 per cent of hotels and restaurants along boulevard on the banks of Dal Lake and at tourist resorts Gulmarg and Pahalgam have not sought no objection certificates from SPCB despite the standing orders by the Central Pollution Board under Environment Protection Act. It is pertinent to mention here that seeking of NOC from SPCB is mandatory for all the hotels, restaurants and business establishments under Environment Protection Act. And if such establishments are along the banks of a fragile and dying lake like that of Dal, the NOC becomes more than mandatory. But the figures speak otherwise. These hotels and restaurants are continuously polluting the lake and government watches as a silent spectator. No action has been initiated against any such establishment and thus the Dal Lake continues to remain a dumping ground for sewage of these establishments. The Houseboats too don’t have SPCB NOC and continue to dump all sewage in the dying Dal.

Need of the hour is to look towards this aspect of the problem. Unless the sources of pollution are not taken care of, how could, no matter what amounts of money are sanctioned, Dal Lake be cleaned. Government needs to be practical and instead of making tall claims in speeches and statements, concentrate on the ground realities. In a place while 70 per cent of grade I and grade II hotels and restaurants, not to speak of other smaller establishments including Dhabas, are not having NOC from SPCB, how could government have the cheeks to talk about controlling pollution and saving environment.

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