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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Road to Chaos

Mustaq highlights the disconnect between increasing vehicular traffic and the poor state of infrastructure, and is concerned about public safety and impact on tourism

(Mr. Mushtaq Sidiqi, 56, was born in Srinagar. He went to the C.M.S Tyndale Biscoe Memorial School, Srinagar, and completed his B.A. from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He received M.A. (Economics), and L.L.B. from the University of Kashmir. Mr. Sidiqi is employed in the J&K Government Service, presently serving in the position of Special Secretary in the Finance Department. He enjoys English Poetry and writing articles on matteres of public interest.)

Restore Road Order

Srinagar, the Capital City of the State, is these days buzzing with lot of activities. Incessant rains are a welcome sign for the tourists turning in large numbers mainly from hot and dusty conditions prevailing elsewhere in the country. But is this city otherwise dressed up appropriately to receive them in other aspects as well? From the awful traffic scenario prevailing all around here, certainly not!

Rampant traffic jams are mainly the result of large scale illegal permissions granted by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation to commercial complexes in the garb of residential houses, none caring for fall-outs on the traffic scenario and on the urban face of this tourist city. With the scope of road widening very limited, the mammoth increase in the number of small and big vehicles plying in the city have made things worse. Slow pace on the implementation of approved road-widening schemes have added to the woes of people. As if this was not enough, inaction on the part of authorities encouraged some people to indulge in the sale- purchase of every type of vehicle ranging from motor-cycles to luxurious cars. This made pavements as their sale points thereby giving rise to chaotic traffic conditions in the process!

Mercifully, the realization seems to have now dawned upon the authorities who have initiated the much needed action to arrest this state of affair and to restore semblance of order. The action has started in Karan Nagar area where this kind of unruly behaviour on the part of some shopkeepers had blocked pavements and roadsides for use by pedestrians besides allowing nearly the half portion of the road to serve the parking needs of illegal commercial complexes which have no such provision. For present, people have been relieved of this menace and a semblance of order has been restored to an extent for over past couple of days, despite protests from these shop keepers who seemed to make merry out of unchecked violations and were reluctant to come to terms with the fact that their actions were completely illegal causing avoidable hardship to common people.

This is just the start of eradicating a problem that has over the past few years assumed colossal proportions at the expense of public convenience. People of the Srinagar city and those who visit it from outside deserve better civic conditions. Dirty surroundings and awful traffic conditions instantly make a visitor think otherwise about the place on landing in the City. Now that the tourism is picking up and the nature too is favourably inclined towards this place, it is about the time that the authorities go ahead seriously in enforcing the law as it should be.

We are lucky in having the State’s first female Divisional Commissioner a local person whose knowledge about the Srinagar City is immense. She is a hard administrator as well and, therefore, an ideal person, in the given situation, to rid the city of its traffic problems. All that she would be needing is a committed support from the general public and the local administration, municipality and the traffic authorities. The State Officers heading these institutions have attained a credible name for their service to the State. Therefore, the situation is well placed for us to expect orderly traffic conditions in city in days to come. The gains that have been made so far thus need to be consolidated.

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