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, May 3, 2010

Rape of a Forest

Kashmir's forests are being vandalized while the state administration and civil society sleeps

Relentless Vandalism of Kupwara Forests Goes Unchecked

Kupwara: Thick and dense forests of Kashmir are fast dwindling with timber smugglers getting away scot-free owing to official indifference. The forests in Kupwara district stand testimony to the vandalism.

Kandi, Nutnussa Kupwara and Lolab forests, falling under forest ranges of Kupwara and Zangli, were once known for their dense and thick forest cover, but the stumps left behind indicate the rampant felling of tress by smugglers over the years so does the receding tree line at the foothills of Kandi Kupwara and Lolab forests.

The locals allege that the smugglers have full backing of forest officials including the forest protection force. Ironically, the Kandi and Nutnussa forests, just four to five kilometers from the office of Deputy Director Forest Protection Force, is one of the worst hit areas.

In upper reaches of Kandi and Nutnussa forests, smugglers pile up the timber and smuggle it under the cover of darkness to areas like Chogal, Kulangam and other areas of Handwara town.

"The timber smuggling is flourishing and it mocks at the government claims of safeguarding the forests,” locals said, adding that the smugglers have enjoyed full backing of army and police besides forest officials.

Besides finding the unending stretch of half-burnt and chopped tree trunks at many places to the barren one can even hear the sawing and axing of trees while passing through the foothills of the forests.

The locals allege that the authorities are not taking concrete measures to prevent felling of trees, and are instead turning blind eye to the grave issue.
When contacted Deputy Director Forest Protection Force Kupwara, Abdus Salam refuted of having any information about organized timber smuggling going on in Kupwara forests, but added that they keep receiving reports of forest officials involved with the smugglers.

The officer alleged that there was lot of political interference in shielding the smugglers.

Salam said the foresters are custodians of “unlocked property” and it was not possible for them to stop the loot completely.

Despite the repeated attempts, Conservator of Forests North Kashmir could not be contacted

(Rising Kashmir)

No comments: