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, October 11, 2010

Fruits of Anarchy

Zeenat exposes how present anarchy has lead to even more corruption

Unrest Triggers Illegal Constructions in Srinagar

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Taking advantage of the unrest here hundreds of illegal constructions are going on in the city with Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) failing to check the menace.

Highly placed sources in the Corporation told ‘Kashmir Images’ that from June onwards more than 350 illegal structures have come up in Srinagar city alone. From Parimpora to Lawaypora the constructions are going on in hassle-free manner, literally under the very nose of the civic body.

“Parimpora seems to be the glaring example of violations of the municipal norms. Here, in the garb of relocation of structures which came under the highway widening, scores of new structures, mostly shopping complexes have come up,” sources said.

Similarly one ‘Royal Sweets’ shop at Court Road, here is another worst example of violation of municipal norms, confessed a senior SMC official.

As per sources, the said party approached SMC five months back seeking permission for “minor repairs” of the sweet shop, which it got.

“But instead of doing the minor repairs the concerned party not only illegally increased the size of the shop but also put in fabrications to cover the shop for which they are not entitled,” an officer said.

He alleged all this was made possible “only after paying money to some SMC officials”.

At residential colonies like Jawahar Nagar, Raj Bagh, Hyderpora, Humhama, Nowgam (By-Pass) also the illegal constructions are going on in full swing. Similar scenes can also be witnessed at Qamarwari Chowk, Soura, Buchpora, Illahi Bagh areas as well as elsewhere within the city.

Citing reasons for the spurt in illegal constructions this year, SMC officials say, “It is simple because of the BOCA, the SMC wing which is authorized to issue building permissions, and which is supposed to meet regularly under the chairmanship of Commissioner SMC, couldn’t meet.”

From June onwards, BOCA met only thrice when it should have met at least eight times, sources said, adding “during this unrest period, only up to 20 re-construction cases (residential permissions) were approved while the BOCA has completely banned commercial permissions. It is also a reason why people find no other way but to go for illegal constructions.”

President, Municipal Employees Union, Haji Bashir Ahmed told ‘Kashmir Images’ that “this summer the city witnessed highest number of illegal constructions. Very little residential permissions were approved by the BOCA this time and those who couldn’t seek the commercial permission resorted to illegal construction themselves.”

He confirmed that “illegal commercial complexes are coming up through misuse of building permissions granted by the civic body which is brazen violation of the municipal norms and SMC heads are watching everything as mute spectators.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner SMC, Sheikh Mushtaq while admitting that the illegal constructions are defacing the city said, “I admit illegal constructions are going on.” He said from June onwards, 160 illegal constructions “have come into our notice”.

“But due to non–cooperation of police we are unable to demolish these illegal structures,” the Commissioner regretted, adding “whenever we try to demolish any illegal structure people at spot thrash our demolition squads.”

About the ‘Royal Sweets’, the Commissioner said “we will get its status re-verified and if concerned party has violated municipal norms we will not only stop the new construction but will raze the violations.”

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