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.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where Wealth and Thievery Cohabit in Each Mortal

Kashmiris have wealth to buy vehicles at a furious pace, but cannot get away from the urge of stealing electric power - two related stories by Muzafar Wani and Rashid Paul

(Mr. Rashid Paul, 40, was born at Ompora, near Budgam. He has a master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Kashmir. He was with the Daily Excelsior before joining the Rising Kashmir as a senior correspondent. He follows business and economy, conflict, environment and power beats. He is also a documentary film maker.)

2.75 lakh vehicles in city, 3000 registered every month: Report

Muzafar Wani

Srinagar: The number of vehicles in the city continues to increase at a rapid rate with 3000 vehicles getting registered every month on an average, a report prepared by traffic department says.

At the end of 2009, the department reported the presence of 2.75 lakh registered vehicles in the city which includes 20,000 government departmental vehicles and 50,000 outside state vehicles.

According to the officials the number of vehicles in the city is going to swell during Darbar Move.

“The number is definitely going to increase with the onset of Darbar Move. It’ll add almost 50,000 vehicles to the already existing figures in the summer capital,” SP Traffic–Kashmir, Showkat Hussain Shah said.

On the level of pollution these vehicles would lead to, the official said that the life span of vehicles is allowed to be only 25 years “after which the vehicles will have to go off roads.”

“Almost 50 per cent of the old fleet of KMD, SRTC and minibuses will complete their life span in the coming two years,” he said.

He said the efforts of extending registration will not be allowed in any case and such vehicles have to go off roads “to bring down the level of pollution in the city.”

The SP traffic also revealed that the transport commissioner has issued a new circular in which the wrong parking and toeing charges have been clubbed together.

“Violation by light vehicles would incur Rs 600 fine, Rs 800 has been set for medium vehicles and Rs 1200 for heavy vehicles,” he said.

The official also said that parking for almost 6000 vehicles is available in the city while the 10,000 vehicles have to be absorbed in would-be parking slots.

The department has also witnessed an increase of 208 per cent in the fine realised during first two months of 2010 when compared to 2009.

“The number of accidents claiming lives has also gone down from six in Jan-Feb previous year to three in first two months of this year,” he added.
He added that there was 53 per cent increase in the fine collected from the violators this year compared to previous year charges.

JK loses Rs 200 Cr to 13 lakh power 'thieves'

Rashid Paul

Srinagar: Even as the Jammu and Kashmir Government blows its own trumpet in power reforms, the state, in reality, is losing a minimum of Rs 200 crore annually at the current tariff in its domestic consumption.

Only 10,35,284 households are registered with the state's Power Development Department (PDD) while 13 lakh more households, unregistered with the department, consume electricity without paying a penny to the government. Result: a revenue loss of over Rs 200 crore every year.

According to the 2001 census, the number of households in state stood at 15,51,000, which rose to 23 lakh by 2009 end. The number of consumers in the household sector connected through an agreement with the PDD has, however, remained inert at 10,35,284.

"Thirteen lakh households are consuming nearly 700 megawatts unauthorized. More than Rs 200 crore are lost every year on this pilferage," disclosed a senior PDD official, wishing not to be named.

The revenue realization from the endorsed domestic consumers is about Rs 129 crore. "The theft," according to the official, "takes place in connivance with certain PDD officials."

According to Prof Nisar Ali, economist, "It looks weird that a state estimated to have a population of 1.2 crore has only one million households consuming electricity officially. The nuclear family system is order of the day. The government ought to rationalize its power distribution system."

"If reforms are taken up at an earnest, the revenue realization in the power sector will go up to Rs 1400 crore annually," he said.

The state consumes around 1400 MW energy and realizes around Rs 736 crore per annum from all sectors, including industry, commercial establishments, domestic and others.

The power bill of the previous fiscal was approximately Rs 2100 crore. This is expected to touch Rs 2500 crore this financial year. The revenue deficit is likely to touch over Rs 1700 crore.

Accepting the extensive gap between authorized and illegal consumption of energy, Chief Engineer, Maintenance and Transmission, Mushtaq Ahmed Shah, said, "A mechanism has been set in whereby a household will be entitled to ration ticket only after it is marked by the PDD engineer of the area."

A Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution ration ticket will lead us to registering the consumers afresh and we will be able to plug the gap between consumption and earnings, he said.


No of households 15, 51,000 (2001 census)
By 2009 end: 23 lakh
Legal connections: 10,35,284
Illegal: 13 lakh
700 MW consumed illegally
Loss in revenue Rs 200 cr
Energy consumed 1400 MW yearly
Rev (domestic) Rs 129 cr yearly
Rev (all sectors) Rs 736 cr yearly
Rev post-reforms Rs 1400 cr yearly
Power bill (last fiscal) Rs 2100 cr
Power bill (this fiscal) Rs 2500 cr

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