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, October 1, 2009

In Kashmir Everything Turns Into a Political Mystery

Kashmir Observer reports on damaging construction that everyone wants stopped and yet no one does

Kralsangri Constructions A Political Mystery

Srinagar: Unabated construction in the supposedly green and inviolate zone of Kralsangri on the foothills of the Zabarwan and on the slopes of the Shankaracharya Hill is turning into a murky political mystery.

Despite an outcry in the public and claims of accountability from a section of the administration, the government has yet to place any restrictions on this prohibited construction or bring officials permitting it to book.

The persistent silence of the government makes the issue all the more intriguing as there are no answers to urgent questions.

The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) which has jurisdiction over Kralsangri as it borders the Dal Lake, is understood to have granted permission to 28 constructions, bypassing the mandatory clearance from the revenue department, the forest department and the town planner.

Even big political bosses like NC president and union minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, who raised a hue and cry on the issue in a recent meeting of the district development board, appear powerless before the formless, but highly influential, syndicate driving the construction in the ecologically sensitive areas.

Government departments themselves appear clueless about the powers influencing decision-making at the top, as housing secretary, Abdul Hameed Allaqaband, who visited the sites along with other officers on the directive of the deputy chief minister, Tara Chand, had promised action against quarters responsible for the activity – assurances that have sunk without a trace.

There are still no answers to crucial questions as to who led the government when permission for the constructions was granted, who headed the LAWDA then, and who the other key officers in granting the clearance were.

Such brazen violation of land use laws could not have been possible without high-level political and bureaucratic involvement, but intriguingly, there is no clue about the hands behind the construction, except for the disturbing fact that it has been taking place during two successive governments.

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