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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kashmir's Roads are a Disgrace

Shoddy construction combined with rampant corruption are turning roads into a mess

Dilapidated roads deflate govt claims

Gowhar Bhat (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Dilapidated city roads have deflated the tall claims of the government about spending crores of rupees on developmental works every year.

Sources told Greater Kashmir on Sunday the contractors use “sub standard material” to macadamize the roads. “If standard material is used for black-topping the roads, it would last for decades, but our roads get damaged within six months and cannot withstand wear and tear,” they added.

In past one decade Dalgate-Hazratbal and Sonawar-Panthachowk road had been macadamized on numerous occasions, sources said. “Both these roads in past years have got worn off within few months.”

“Surprisingly the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department has not taken any action against the contractors whose works are not up to the mark. Neither have they been penalized nor black listed,” sources said, adding, “As per the guidelines the percentage of tar coal has to be at 3.5 kilograms per cubic meter but in most of the cases it ranges from 1.9 to 2.1. Instead of using the diesel mixture, it has been observed that contractors use kerosene to cut the cost.”

When contacted the chief engineer R&B, Muhammad Shafi Mir denied that his department was responsible for the city roads being in a mess and he passed the buck, saying, “There is a lack of coordination between the various government departments. Once a road is blacktopped, the men from the water works, telecom and other departments dig it to repair the water supply lines, telephone connections or something else. We are at the receiving end for no fault of ours. It’s others who damage the roads not us.”

To overcome this problem, Mir said that R&B had signed a memorandum of understanding with other departments. “Whoever digs open the road in future will have to restore it.”

Asked about the allegations about the use of “sub-standard” material and the damages caused to the newly black-topped roads, he said, “If the road gets damaged due to the use of sub-standard material, the contractor has to repair it on his own and we make sure that such contractors get black listed.”

Asked why the Dalgate- Hazratbal road had been repaired many times in past one decade, he said, “ It has been dug open several times for one or the other reason.”

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