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, September 10, 2010

Mixing Anarchy and Corruption in Kashmir

Can the SMC stop citizens from destroying their own city?


Srinagar: In what could be a major jolt to government’s inquiry into the Master Plan violations in the past, scores of fresh “illegal” constructions are going on in the City with Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) failing to the check the menace.

From Soura in north City to Rawalpora in the south, to places like Jawahir Nagar and Raj Bagh in between, the constructions are going on “hassle free”, literally under the nose of the civic body.

Greater Kashmir received scores of complaints in this regard from public circles. The SMC officials, as per insiders, are aware of the issue but have declined to act pleading that the “situation isn’t conducive for reaction.”


Parimpora in the north seems to be the glaring example of violations of the municipal norms. Here, in the garb of relocation of building structures which came under the highway widening, scores of new structures, mostly shopping complexes are coming up in the vicinity.

Sources in the SMC said the families whose houses had to be relocated under the expansion of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, had applied for permission of residential houses but are constructing commercial complexes instead.

At colonies like Raj Bagh, Jawahir Nagar, Barzulla and Mahjoor Nagar in the civil lines, the allegedly illegal constructions are going at full swing. Similar is the scene in Hyderpora, Rawalpora and Nowgam areas, the complainants said.

Interestingly, to ensure speedy completion, the work is going on day-and-night.
The complainants alleged that some officials in the SMC are hand in glove with the builders.

“We learnt from reliable quarters that some SMC babus have asked them to complete the work at an earliest much within the ongoing unrest,” said a delegation of locals from HMT area.


Sources in the SMC said most of the allegedly illegal commercial complexes are coming up through misuse of building permission granted by the civic body.

“Many of the building permission cases were approved by the BOCA for construction of residential houses. But, instead commercial complexes are being constructed which is brazen violation of the municipal norms,” the sources said.


Despite repeated attempts the SMC Commissioner couldn’t be contacted for comment.

A lower rung official, pleading anonymity said there could “only be some isolated cases” of violations taking place.

“We are keeping a check in general. But violations could be taking place in some volatile areas where it’s difficult to act,” he said.


Pertinently, last year, following complaints of Master Plan violations in the City over the years, the Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand had sought a probe into the matter.

In December, 2009, the Deputy Chief Minister during his city tour had asked the high-level committee headed by Additional Commissioner Kashmir to submit its report on the Master Plan violations.

Subsequently four sub committees were constituted to report the violations from four zones of the City viz –North, South, East and West.

The committee, as per the sources, close to the deputy Chief Minister, had identified over 1000 illegal structures in the City.


While it was expected that keeping in view a “sympathetic attitude towards the people”, the buildings wouldn’t be demolished but only that the violators would be fined, the government planned tough measures against the officials responsible for the violations.

As per official documents, the Deputy Chief Minister, had asserted that strict action would be taken against officials “involved in or extending helping hand” in violations of the Master Plan.”

Tara had said the violations along with those responsible for permitting these violations, encroachments and illegal constructions should be submitted with the recommendations of action against the erring officials.

Tara had instructed for “categorizing action” against the erring officials.


Even though the inquiry into the Master Plan violations was expected to serve as a deterrent against future violations, the ongoing spree of constructions seems to have put the inquiry back to square one!

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