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, June 14, 2010

Srinagar was the First, Pahalgam is the Next

The nexus between politicians (pro and anti India) and the local land mafia is destroying Kashmir's pristine beauty

Illegal Constructions Devour Pahalgam’s Fragile Ecology

Ishfaq Mir (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Rampant illegal constructions at Pahalgam continue
to ravage its fragile ecology and environs, even as the officials at
the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) express “helplessness” in
preventing the Nature from being plundered by people with high
political connections.

Sources in the PDA said some influential people enjoying political
patronage continue to encroach the land and are erecting structures on
the fragile forest land in violation of the Master Plan.
“Three months ago, five influential hoteliers had made some deviations
to the approved building plan while repairing their hotel buildings or
erecting new structures. They were served notices by the PDA, warning
them to stop the construction but none of them so far has rectified
the deviations,” sources said.

On January 9 last, PDA issued notices to all the five persons vide Nos
EE/PDA/2423-26, EE/PDA/2435-38, EE/PDA/2415-18, EE/PDA/2419-22 and

“As reported by the Assistant Executive Engineer, you have illegally
made some deviations to the approved building. In this connection you
are directed to rectify the same within a week's time, failing which
the same shall be demolished by this department at your own risk and
cost” read the notices, copies of which are lying with Rising Kashmir.
However, sources said, despite the notices, none of them have
rectified the deviations but continued the construction in violation
of the approved building plan at the behest of some politicians.

An official in the PDA told Rising Kashmir, “The time given to the
hoteliers for demolishing their illegal structures on their own has
passed. I fail to understand what the PDA is waiting for. It seems
that the Authority fears to touch the hoteliers because of their high
political connections.”

Although PDA has banned the entry of any construction material in
Pahalgam town, the five influential hoteliers have managed the entry
of such material. “None of them had been granted permission for
bringing the construction material in the town but they did it with
the blessings of politicians and police,” sources added.

However, Executive Engineer PDA Akhter Hussian, while talking to
Rising Kashmir, said, “All the five hoteliers stopped the work on
their illegal constructions just after the PDA issued notices to
them." However, he said one of them (hoteliers) on the directions of
the court was allowed to go on with the construction.

“Whenever we get information regarding any illegal construction, we
take immediate action. Some village people might be doing repair work
which can’t be taken as violation,” added Hussain.

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