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, June 11, 2009

Long-Term Disaster for Near-Term Convenience

Dal Lake is dying because of major social and ecological changes in Kashmir, but Kashmiris fail to look understand that the "green bowl" will die when the lake dries out

Dal interiors serve as green bowl

Srinagar: While the Dal lake generates a huge business by serving a prime attraction for the tourists visiting the Valley, its interiors support a large scale economic activity by producing hundreds of tons of vegetables every year.

According to growers cultivating vegetables on the floating gardens in the interiors of the lake, over 6 to 15 quintals of vegetables are being cultivated on each kanal of land inside the lake.

“While one kanal usually gives a production of 15 quintals of radish and turnip in four months, the leafy vegetables give less yields,” says Rahat, a vegetable grower at Chowdhary Bagh, Khan Mohalla.

Vegetable cultivation is a round the year activity in the interiors. “From February to May seeds like that of tomatoes, saag, radish, brinjal and others are sown in the month of February,” they say.

For past over a couple of years, they say, they have adopted a new method of growing vegetables during winters, where in they cultivate them in a glass houses.

“Then in May, summer vegetables like chilies, beans, rajmah, cucumber and other vegetables are sown that are reaped in June. The season of summer vegetables lasts till August,” says Rahat.

The third season is of winter vegetables, when carrot, radish, turnip, Kashmiri or Hanji saag, G M Dar saag, onion and garlic are sown in September. “These vegetables are reaped in December. This season lasts till February,” she says.

Rahat (53) and her husband Ghulam Nabi Khan (58) have been cultivating vegetables on their three-kanal land in the area for several decades. Rahat’s father too had been into the same profession.

At Khan Mohalla, there are three families cultivating vegetables, where as in its adjoining area namely Zari Mohalla, around a dozen of families grow vegetables at their respective places. Almost every member of these families engages himself or herself with vegetable cultivation.

“Almost everyone here takes up this job right from the childhood. I too was a child when I started growing vegetables,” said 50 year old Misra.

She and her husband Ghulam Nabi Bhat, along with two other families, cultivate vegetables on their 10-kanal land at Zari Mohalla.

The male members in the families sell the domestic vegetables to shopkeepers at the main vegetable market in Dal Lake.

As per the growers, the vegetables that are not grown in Dal lake are brought from the outside. “We collect those vegetables from the Parimpora market and sell them as well in the market along with the domestic vegetables,” says Javed.

He says most of the vegetables in Kashmir are received from outside the Valley.

“In winters, there is usually a dearth for vegetables in the Valley, when only a few vegetables are grown here. Hence the rest of the vegetables have to be imported from the outside. This is why when the highway is blocked, we feel shortage of the vegetables here and the prices too get high,” says Javed.

“In summers we don’t face shortage of vegetables,” he adds.

“However, the trend of outside vegetables has not affected our business at all.

Since the vegetables produced from Dal interiors are fresher and better in taste than those received from the outside, many customers prefer our vegetables,” asserts Khatija Begam selling vegetables on the footpath along Foreshore Road

The growers say the vegetables of the Valley are even sent to rest of the state including Jammu and Ladakh. “However, we don’t supply the vegetables directly to outside places, but indirectly through the traders in the market,” they say.

Growers, however, say they make a very little profit on the vegetables they sell in the market. “This is because we have to spend a lot on the fertilizers and chemicals required for the vegetables,” says Rahat.

“The chemicals are usually very costly that we usually can not afford to buy. In the absence of requisite chemicals, many of our vegetables have attained certain diseases, due to which we are facing huge losses. Government should provide us with the chemicals free of cost,” says Ghulam Nabi Bhat, another vegetable grower.

Growers accuse the government for “its indifferent attitude towards them.” They say previous year they had suffered tremendous losses because of flood, followed by a sharp decrease in the vegetable prices.

“All the vegetable growers of Dal Lake had suffered huge losses of lakhs of rupees, for which the government had promised us for compensation, but did nothing,” says Rahat. (Greater Kashmir)

No comments: