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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quality Trounces Bureaucracy

Notwithstanding various official restrictures, valley consumers continue to favor "foreign marble/granite" over local variety

Valley construction agencies import Rs 400 Cr marble, granite

Srinagar: Kota stone and other glossy tiles worth Rs 400 crores are annually imported by state’s construction agencies against government orders. The local manufacturers have urged the government to impress upon these agencies for use of locally processed marble and granite.

The state government issued an administrative order no DivCom/Dev50/375-77 dt 13.05.2008 instructing the use of local marble/granite in place of imported Kota stone and other tile material used in all government buildings. Following this order Jammu and Kashmir Projects Constructions Corporation (JKPCC) also directed its executives vide order no GM/K/5751-60 dt 24.02.2009 to comply the state government order. Weighing the gravity of the issue the chief engineer R&B and PWD also passed a circular no PS/19808-12 dt 13.01.2009 stressing upon all their superintending engineers to encourage local products over imported ones.

“But despite these orders the Kota stone and other sandstone tiles continue to be imported worth Rs 400 crores annually,” said Abdul Majid Khan, president of the Chamber of Kashmir Marble and Granite Industries Kashmir. All the government directives and orders are put on the shelf and local product is discarded for ulterior motives, he said.

Khan said officials are flouting the state industrial policy that explicitly provides for protection of local products. Earthen and synthetic tiles are acquired by all the construction agencies although we have the world class marble and granite available here at reasonable prices.

He said the personal interests of certain officials have proceeded over the State. Not only the JKPCC but all the construction agencies in the state sector are flouting government directions. It is a criminal conspiracy that they are discouraging local talent and causing the flow of capital from the State.

According to official estimates the state has marble and granite deposits worth Rs 9 lakh crores. The extraction and processing of the reserves began in early eighties however, with the eruption of militancy all the marble extraction and processing units were occupied by the military and paramilitary forces. Although some unit holders managed evacuation of the forces and started production but a frosty approach by certain public servants in the high offices is discouraging entrepreneurs, said Atiq Ahmed an industrialist.

(Rising Kashmir)

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