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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Dal Conservation Authority

Mohsin believes that restoring Dal to its pristine beauty should be a priority for the government, and suggests creation of the Dal Conservation Authority

(Mohsin Wani, 24, was born in Srinagar, received early schooling in Srinagar and graduated in computer sciences. Mohsin completed a MBA degree in Information Technology, and is currently preparing for state and central level civil/administrative service examinations. Winner of numerous awards in debating, essay competitions and quiz programs in school and colleges, Mohsin spends leisure time listening to soft music, reading books and watching cricket.)

DYING DAL: Can we save this asset?

Almighty Allah has gifted human beings with supreme intelligence and innumerable qualities that steered him through the change of nature and equipped him with conditions sustainable for his survival and wellbeing. From centuries man has used his intelligence, skill, and wisdom to unfold the complex mysteries of nature and science alike. From unveiling the path of planets to modern day medical discoveries, from tapping solar energy to present day nuclear energy and from measuring the depth of oceans to maneuvering different space missions, man has scuffle with time to fill its appetite. While I was going through the ECO-Plus (Special supplement of GK on environment) sometime back, it sends a chill down the spine to read the shocking revelations made by different contributing authors.

It seems that we have left no stone unturned to make use of all the divine qualities gifted to us by God in polluting our water bodies, lakes and rivers all alike and especially the “Dal-lake” has been the brutal victim of our mischief. A non-local resident be it national or foreign may not have heard of Dargah-sharief or Shankaracharya, but he will be well introduced with the name Dal-lake. So, it’s not just a lake but is the brightest jewel in the crown of our civilizational and cultural-heritage and is our identity. Apart from socio-cultural and economic importance it binds its different stakeholders with an emotional bond that made them to be concerned about its ailing health which has turned into a disease and is on the verge of taking the shape of a social epidemic.

I was amazed to learn as one of the contributing authors has written that the government has put the Dal-lake project on priority list since 1970, but no tangible signs of improvement. The ‘bailout’ may be a new buzz word in the public domain due to the recent economic recession, but the Dal-lake has been ‘bailout’ many a times since 1970’s and no recovery yet. As another author narrates that an alternate Dal would have been created had the money spent on it been properly utilized. Though the people have plundered its chastity from time to time in various forms, the successive regimes have also been equally responsible for bolstering their political ego’s through it and thus adding to its misery, otherwise the journey from 25 sq. kms to 14 sq. kms would have been an overnight one.

Currently the problem of Dal-lake is a complex one and the myriad dimensions of which have already been highlighted by various authors in the Eco-plus. From manual dwelling to raising toxic levels, from backwater channels to STP’s and from re-aligning the shikara’s to rehabilitation of Dal-community, everything has been portrayed on the big canvas but the larger picture still seems to be blur. Although, one thing that is visible from the entire document is that the government lacks a comprehensive action plan on it. Lack of coordination between different agencies working on it is evident and the efforts are a complete mismatch with the gigantic problems those have engulfed the entire Dal-lake and beyond now.

Restoring the Dal-lake back to its original beauty is a mammoth task and the government needs to bring all its stakeholders and civil society on a common platform. The government needs to rededicate itself with a professional approach and has to be at the forefront in the whole paramount exercise. Their seems to be an urgent need to create a separate “Dal Conservation Authority” (DCA) and should be given the status of a department in the j&K government. Its work should be under the direct supervision and control of Chief Minister. The DCA will work as a central command centre and should have various sections under its deptt. Viz ;(Finance, Housing, IT, R&D, etc) so that all the authorities could be brought under one roof and blame-game could be avoided. The DCA should not be over burdened with babus and should have adequate representation from scientists, civil society and voluntary organizations. Also, the time has come to create a separate “Dal protection force”, It’s men should be trained as life guard on one hand and on the other they will constantly monitor the health and hygiene of dal. They will also check the elements constantly polluting the lake, especially from dalgate to Nehru park belt and its vicinity, which is the most contaminated area.

The missing link in the entire exercise on the part of the government has been about ‘awareness’. The awareness about ailing health of Dal should be a regular one and cannot be time bound. Print and electronic media should be extensively used and sufficient literature should be distributed at appropriate places. Last, but not least June-5 every year should be observed as “Dal preservation day”, so as to recall our stand and commitment for bringing Dal-lake back to its pristine glory. With these words, I would like to say it’s high time for all of us to awake before time will freeze this rare treasure of ours on the extinction-list.

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