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, November 26, 2010

Reviving Dal Lake

The Lakes and Waterways Developmental Authority (LAWDA) is incapable of saving the lake

Reviving Dal Lake

On November 20, in a high-level meeting with Lakes and Waterways Developmental Authority (LAWDA), Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand gave a 15-day deadline for assessment of 395 structures along Dole Demb area that will open three square kilometers area and increase Dal lake expanse from 18 to 21 kilometers. These are just baby steps; government has to take conservation mission on a war footing.

Results need to be evident; approaches have to appear pragmatic, quantifiable and long lasting. According to estimates, around 50,000 tons of silt and other pollutants get added into the Lake annually, reducing its depth and encouraging the growth of weeds. The government has often said problem is compounded by the encroachment, pollution and deforestation, which has affected the Lake’s eco-system. What is more damaging is a lack of proper blue print from government? State needs to have a multi-layered conservation approach, which is not only implemented, but also finished under a given time frame. There has been a heightened concern within Kashmir’s civil society about a possible threat that the Dal Lake will soon be a history. This fear manifests itself in the form of the mess, which has engulfed the Lake today. Government has to be proactive not just in planning, but in action as well. Steps like creation of artificial wetlands are a welcome one. This will not only minimize the waste substances and nutrients slipping into lake, but will create a sustainable ecosystem, which will itself preserve the Lake in the longer run.

However,cynicism steps in when it comes to execution, long-term backup plan is must for this sustainable solution. Wetlands will need protection and maintenance. LAWDA has to extend these upcoming artificial water bodies as a future course of action in safeguarding Dal Lake. Between all this eco-friendly build-ups by LAWDA, cleaning of blockage channels has to speed up. A serious, effective, and quick mechanism in removing reeds, radhs, landmasses and encroachment has to proceed swiftly. Along all this hard labour, a sustained awareness campaign is a must for local populace informing them ways of conserving the precious Dal. To implement such bold decisions LAWDA needs to shed the chronic sloth and implement the government’s vision in letter and spirit. The government on its part has to ensure all this is implemented on the waters, which remain turbulent and now dirty as well.

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