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, June 24, 2011

The Destruction of Dal

Indifference and greed lead to expected consequences

Tussle Ruins Dal Lake

Srinagar: As the ‘Incredible India’ tries to promote Kashmir as the prime tourist destination, at its heart a lingering conflict is polluting the waters and future of tourism in this Himalayan valley.

Dal Lake, one of the main attractions of Kashmir tourism is decaying as the tussle between government and houseboat owners’ hits stalemate over relocation of houseboats. Without a decision in view houseboats continue to function without sceptic tanks putting all the drainage directly into the water making Dal ever more polluted and prone to excessive weed growth and sedimentation.

“We have managed to curtail all the pollution coming into the Dal from catchment areas and the only direct toxic waste polluting Dal is from the houseboats”” Irfan Yaseen chairman Lakes and Waterways Developmental Authority said. According to Yaseen houseboats owners are reluctant to relocate to Dole Dam where government is promising free of cost centralized sanitation system.

LAWDA chief also said if houseboat owners do not comply with the government they are left with no option other than using law enforcement agencies to save the Lake.

“We are trying to make them understand that their livelihood is directly related with the wellbeing of the lake. We know it is an emotional issue for them, but they have to understand that it is the need of the hour,” said Yaseen whose agency with some success connected 70 houseboats from Nageen Lake with the sewer and by end of this year will connect all 150 odd houseboats from the second popular lake of the city with the drainage system.

“Social pressure on this sect of society holds key to success. We don’t want to use force and we hope that persuasion will do the trick,” Yaseen said.

But for the Houseboat Owners Association, government claims hold no standing as according to its president, Altaf Wangnoo the problem of pollution is with authorities who have “failed to relocate 60000 families of Dal dwellers. We are hearing for years that they will relocate these families from the Dal and will make it clean and free from encroachment; they are moving at a snail pace.”

Wagnoo said shifting to Dole dumb is out of question as it will ruin their business and property. “They have to only connect 130 houseboats with sewer, for that they can’t hold all of us ransom,” Wagnoo said. “We are always ready to help, but we seek government compensation if they want us to move back.”

Government on the other side wants to see tangible results by the end of next year in improving the situation of Dal Lake. “We have seen 20 years of turmoil and we have hope to bring Kashmir back to what it used to be,” Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister and union minister for new and renewable energy said on sidelines of a promotional golf event in Srinagar’s Royal Spring Golf Course on Saturday.

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