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

No Better Example of Kashmir's Dysfunctional Civil Society Than This

Even during peace time Dal Lake was in a bad shape, now it is even worse. It is a sad reflection of a dysfunctional civil society obsessed with a single-point agenda

Dal Lake, Silent Victim of Kashmir Unrest

Srinagar: The four-month long unrest in Kashmir has taken a toll on one silent victim besides leaving many people dead and injured: Dal lake. Encroachment and failure to initiate conservation measures have lead the world-famous lake shrunk and stinking.

The separatists' shutdown calendars and the authorities' curfew have provided a cover to illegal construction in and around the Dal lake.

"We seized four trucks carrying construction material near Nishat area two days ago," sub-division police officer, Nehru Park, Muzaffar Ahmad Shah told the Hindustan Times.

The police have prepared a list of construction works taking place in and around the lake.

"A fresh verification will be carried out. The final action has to be taken by the lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA)," said Shah. There are reports of construction material being ferried in shikaras (small boats).

The J-K high court has banned new construction in the demarcated green zone area to preserve the lake. The LAWDA has failed to stop the illegal construction in the last four months because of the unrest.

There are rampant illegal constructions in Rainawari- Saida Kadal- Foreshore belt and Dalgate-Nishat-Teilbal belt. In Kand area, the interiors of Dal lake, behind Nehru Park, the encroachers have demarcated water bodies with sand bags and filled it with earth to convert the water body into land for cultivation.

"The government has diverted the police force made available to the LAWDA to maintain law and order. The department has no police wing right now to battle encroachers," said a senior LAWDA official on the condition of anonymity.

LAWDA vice-chairman Irfan Yasin refused to comment on the issue: "I am busy in a marriage party."

The curfew and security restrictions have also crippled LAWDA's Dal lake conservation initiatives. The de-weeding could not be taken up for most of the days in the last three months because of curfew and stringent security restrictions.

"During curfew, we were not allowed to dump weeds on boulevard for final dumping," said Mohi-ud-Din, a shikara-owner working with LAWDA, which hires nearly 500 Dal-dwellers for manual de-weeding.

Unattended for a long period, the lake is attacked by obnoxious water-fern Azolla. Influx of effluent has spurred the growth of Azolla, which blocks sunlight to its flora and fauna.

The Central government has sanctioned a grant of 3.56 billion rupees for conservation of the lake. The state government has sanctioned Rs 356 crore to buy high-tech machines for cleaning of the lake

No comments: