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 15, 2009

It Can Only Get Worse in Kashmir

We know it is bad news when the Minister personally delivers it at the International Workshop on Climate Change, Glacial Retreat and Livelihood

Joint Efforts Needed To Protect Glaciers, Water Bodies: Environment Minister

Muddasir Ali (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: With global warming already showing its signs in Jammu and Kashmir in the form of untimely climatic changes, the Jammu and Kashmir government candidly admitted Monday that no concrete steps had been taken to preserve the environment and to arrest the phenomenon which could lead to ecological disaster.

“A lot of paper work has been done on climatic changes but a huge question mark hangs on its implementation. We have an Environment Department but it is not taking concrete steps to work on climatic changes,” Minister for Forests, Environment, Mian Altaf, said at the inaugural function of a 3-day “International Workshop on Climate Change, Glacial Retreat and Livelihood” at the SKICC here.

However, the minister quickly added that the department was short of manpower. “We have to set it right. The government can adopt the models (already) being implemented by different countries to preserve the environment,” he said.

“Coordinated efforts between the government and people are needed to preserve water bodies, glaciers, forests and other natural resources,” Altaf said, adding that no system could ever be perfect even as the government was making efforts to stop the degradation of environment.

“Along with global efforts, the state should formulate policies to tackle climate change locally, and a state mechanism needs to be evolved for micro level solutions that require a sincere response from bureaucracy, civil society. NGOs and the media,” he said.

Over the past few years, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed frequent and freakish climate changes including rains and long periods of dryness lessening the water levels in rivers and streams and fall in horticulture and agriculture production.

More importantly, the changes, which experts believe were occurring due to the effects of global warming, result in fast depletion of glaciers, the lifeline of water bodies in Kashmir. According to a study, glaciers in this part of the Himalayan range are receding faster than ever.

“The (untimely) climatic changes are a matter of grave concern as these impact forests and agriculture with the potential to affect the livelihood of people,” Altaf said.

He said the department would be releasing a declaration on climate changes at the end of the workshop.

The vice-chancellor, Kashmir University, Prof Riyaz Punjabi, criticized the government for doing little on the front. “There is not much scientific data available on climate changes in Jammu and Kashmir but the indicators are already there,” he said.

“We need to pool the data in a coordinated manner and formulate the strategy to deal with the issue which has far reaching consequences,” the VC said. Kashmir, Prof Punjabi said, used to have a pattern of seasons but the region had now lost one of them, Sount Kaal, a season which used to arrive prior to spring.

The minister of state for Forests, Shabir Ahmad Khan, also addressed the function.
The workshop was organized jointly by the state government, the University of Kashmir and The Energy and research Institute.

Head Glaciologist from TERI, Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain, while giving a scientific assessment of the glacier receding and carbon soot levels rise, said warming of the climate system was unequivocal as was evident from the fourth assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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