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, April 8, 2010

Riverboat Cruises Along Jhelum

Tourist Department hopes to revive yester-year's "Dunga" ride, while the city ponders to add some traffic lights - the only major city in the world with no functional traffic lights (two stories from the Greater Kashmir)

Jhelum River Dunga Cruise from April 14

In a bid to add river Jhelum in the tourists’ itinerary, the tourism department has decided to launch and revive age-old practice of Dunga (Rowing Houseboat) cruising from Zero Bridge to Chattabal Weir from April 14.

The department officials said that the tourists and locals, during the ride, would have the historic outlook of Srinagar city that mushroomed along the Jhelum banks since centuries.

“Tourists would be told about the historical monuments that lie along the river course in the city. These include all the bridges and religious places besides and human settlements in old city that have historical importance,” Director Tourism Kashmir Farooq Ahmad Shah told Rising Kashmir on the sidelines of an inauguration function of a hotel here.

The tourism director said the cruise ride would also involve entertainment and cultural programmes besides Sufi music for tourists enjoying the Dunga ride.

Not only this, the department is planning to offer a running commentary on the historic monuments and the shrines along the river course en route Chattabal Weir.

“Besides Kehwa would be also served to the riders,” Shah said.

Dunga and other transport service through the city were managed by the water transport. The practice was regular during Maharaja rule in Kashmir to welcome State guests and other dignitaries visiting Kashmir in the shape of huge processions passing through the historic river.

The practice continued till Sheikh Abdullah’s regime in seventies but afterwards the tourism in the river plunged owing to increasing encroachment along the river banks and malfunctioning of Chattabal Weir.

However, due to sustained efforts of the irrigation and flood control department, the beautification of Jhelum banks besides restoration of Weir is expected to once again make the old river route navigable.

The tourism officials said that the department would check the pollution in the water bodies including river Jhelum and its other outlets to let the cruise service run successfully.

“We are also planning to install eco-friendly kitchens to treat the houseboat waste. That way we could help reduce pollution and waste level in the river water,” the director tourism said.

Traffic Dept. Seeks Light Signals on Intersections

The traffic department has sought installation of electric traffic signal system at the various junctions of Srinagar-Jammu Highway in the city.

Officials of the department say that many intersections where traffic flows from four sides are fast turning into “death traps” for the pedestrians and motorists both.

“The traffic on such crossroads has to be seen by light signal system, but there is no such provision,” S P Traffic, Showkat Hussain Shah told Rising Kashmir, adding that Roads and Building (R&B) department hasn’t tried to erect such signals across the city.

“We’re left with no option but to handle traffic manually,” the official added.

Among these intersections, which officials say are prone to accidents, include each at Bemina, Tengpora and Sanat Nagar.

With the up gradation of Bypass from two-lane to four-lane highway, many such junctions were created for easy flow of traffic connecting link roads with the main highway.

Locals, meanwhile, have alleged wrong construction policies of R&B leading to untoward incidents on these spots.

“The traffic comes from four sides and there is only one traffic personnel to handle such pressure,” said Mohammad Shafi, a resident of Bemina.

“The scenario gets worsened when the vehicles are made to ply on a single lane leading to frequent traffic snarls,” he added.

The traffic SP, however, says the roads have not been constructed keeping in view the present traffic scenario in the city.

“We are forced to divert the four-lane traffic on the two-lane way,” Shah said, adding the light signals have become a necessity “if we are to manage the traffic efficiently on these intersections.”

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