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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pathetic State of Kashmir's Lakes and Waterways

Musavirr provides an update of the worsening problem

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 28, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Water Bodies In Kashmir Under Constant Threat

The water bodies in Kashmir are under constant threat. Kashmir is also called the "heaven on earth" because of the lofty mountain peaks and the natural water reservoirs. There are numerous springs, lakes, channels and rivers whose origin lies somewhere in the heart of mountains. Among such unlimited water bodies is world famous Dal Lake.

The water of the Dal Lake was considered to be fit for drinking but the manipulations done to the same has made it so dirty and filthy that most people do not like to wash their hands with its water. The main reason which is responsible for water pollution in Dal Lake is the human touch. All the outlet pipes and the waste pipes of hotels and houseboats reserve their wastes in the Dal only. Due to which not only the water of the Dal has been polluted but the aquatic life of whole Dal Lake has been under the threat from last two decades with the result of which several species of flora and fauna are under extinction day by day.

Besides, the known factors, like human settlements (60,000 people), hotels (300), floating gardens, and even dhobi ghats on the periphery, are contributing to the lake's slow death. The lake, which has shrunk from 75 sq kilometers to mere 11.56 sq km, has ammonical nitrogen of over 1.57 mgl, with the maximum permissible limit being 0.5 mgl.

Another indicator is the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which was 41.8 mgl at the Nehru Park basin. Though the permissible level of COD is 9 mgl, it varied from minimum 18.76 mgl to maximum of 41.8 mgl, says the report.

The phosphates concentration, which should be less than 0.1 mgl, was also found to be increasing, with 1.18 mgl recorded at Hazratbal Basin, and a constant increase recorded all though the Lake. The report also states that the dissolved oxygen was found to be declining at various basins of the Dal. The pH value was also put on a higher alkaline side, with 7.39 at Nehru Park basin to 8.16 at Nigeen basin.

The depth of the lake has also decreased from 17 feet in 1970s to less than nine feet. The regular surveys of Lake and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) have also shown a rise in pollutants, though the department authorities say that the government was seriously working towards saving the Dal.

In addition to the houseboats where some 7,500 people live, another 50,000 people live on little islands within the lake area. The lake's environmental deterioration can be attributed rightly to human settlements within and near the lake.

Brightly coloured floating vegetable gardens have also become big sources of contamination. Dal Lake's floating gardens on rafts made of reeds make it one of the Indian Kashmir's biggest vegetable producing areas. Pesticides used by farmers find their way into the lake, causing colossal damage to its fauna and flora.

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