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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saving Hokersar

One of Kashmir's jewels, Hokersar Wetland located West of Srinagar, is under seige from land mafias and local villagers encroaching on its land. That is before one begins to worry about deteriorating environment

Wetland Conservation in Kashmir

Srinagar: In the wake of increasing pollution, environmentalists in Srinagar conducted a workshop on the protection of wetlands and migratory birds from environmental hazards and encroachments.

In order to protect the 'Hokersar' wetland and other wetlands of Kashmir, the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forests organised the workshop to spread awareness about the conservation of environment.

"It is always better if National Institutes take up our cause and spread the message at national as well as international level. This is how our problems would be appropriately projected. The management urges us to present our issues on a proper forum and also at the right time. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken up a very important task to spread awareness among the public," said R.D. Tiwari, organiser and Principal Chief Conservator of forests, Jammu and Kashmir. It is a workshop for understanding the people. The outcome of this workshop would be a proper input for that pilot project, which we have taken up for this state and which has a one year duration," he added.

Experts from various institutions briefed the audience and held discussions about the preservation of wetlands.

The 'Hokersar' wetland is renowned all over the country, as it has around a million migratory birds on display.

The migratory species include grey heron, pond heron, pin tail, blue rot pigeon and alpine swift, but this wetland is gradually losing its charm, due to silt, which comes from Dudhganga catchment area.

However, frequent encroachments by locals have been a cause of great concern. Thus, in order to preserve these wetlands, it is essential that the public is aware about its significance for the balance of the ecological system.

"Kashmir has a lot of wetlands. People know about quite a few wetlands, but are unaware about the others. Wetlands are systems of a greater extent. So, many people don't know about its importance and its value. They don't even know its purpose. So, workshops are necessary to spread awareness among the people, so that they conserve these wetlands. It is very important to sustain our ecological system," said Saba Saleem, wetland expert, lakes and waterways development authority, Jammu and Kashmir. (ANI)

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