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, October 28, 2011

The Sorry State of SFC

The State Forest Corporation (SFC) is financially in doldrums and may close

‘Warped Policy, No Imagination’

Srinagar: Governments warped policy and lack of imagination are now leading the J&K State Forest Corporation on the brink of closure, well place sources told Kashmir Monitor. The Corporation that is already in red is on the brink of closure as the sales of timber have dwindled over the last few years due to the cheaper forms of wood available in the local market.

“We sell a foot of deodar wood at about Rs.2000 per foot. Now imported timber is available in the market for almost one fourth of the price. So it is but normal for people to go for the cheaper option”, an official of the State Forest Corporation told Kashmir Monitor on condition of anonymity.

Sources in the Corporation say as soon as the demand for SFC controlled timber was beginning to show a dip, the Government should have sensed the market mood and taken corrective measures. Sources say that despite a drop in demand the Government continues to keep the same supply levels which have resulted in massive stock piling at the SFC godowns.” Normally when a demand for a certain product dwindles, the supplier curbs the supply. But in Kashmir though the demand has dwindled, the supply is the same. The result is a massive overstock”, another official of SFC says.

Sources also complain that as a life saving measure the Government should itself have brought timber only from the SFC as it would have ensured the Corporation would continue to survive and the Government itself would have benefited from the high quality timber.

One of the other results of Governments lack of interest is the fact that despite finding fewer takers, the deodar felling continues as per Government norms. Sources say that with massive overstock of deodar available in godowns felling of tress for timber should be immediately stopped.

Privately senior officials of the State Forest Corporation admit that the Government should have itself gone into the imported timber business when it had started few years back. Officials say that due to government’s lack of vision, the entire timber market is now flooded with imported timber and as such the entire market has lost the balance. “There is no control over the quality and pricing. Everyone can become a timber dealer now. As such the market has crashed and margins have been affected. Government should have itself imported timber and sold it at a controlled price”, the officials admits.

Sources also say that most of the Corporation staff is now without work and very soon the Corporation would have to arrange salaries from somewhere as its coffers were running dry.

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