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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

As Fresh Water Lakes Shrink, Kashmiris Stay Aloof

The Editorial in the Rising Kashmir says that while we are past the stage of restoring Dal to its past glory, but we must try to salvage as much of the lake as possible

Salvaging Dal

The pollution and gradual shrinking of Dal Lake has been a cause of concern for Kashmiris. Restoring the lake to its past glory may be impossible now, but we must salvage as much of it as possible. This cannot be done only by commissioning expensive machines for cleaning the lake. There is a dire need to stem further pollution of the world famous water body by taking measures like upgradation of drainage and sewerage system, removal of encroachments in and around the lake and rehabilitation of Dal dwellers as soon as possible.

A committee formed by Legislative Assembly to look into the deterioration of Dal few years back had concluded that lack of coordination between three departments-UEED, LAWDA and SMC was affecting the health of the lake. With no coordination among the departments regarding bifurcation of sewerage and drainage system the effectiveness of the cleaning operations remained severely affected. The committee also pointed to lack of coordination between departments in dealing with financial matters regarding the Dal works due to which bulk of money released for the purpose was wasted. “There was enough money but fault lies with the execution,” the committee’s report underlined. Pertinently, the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, has sanctioned a project worth Rs 298.76 crores for conservation and management of Dal and Nageen lakes on September 30, 2005. The project could not be completed in time. Owing to official callousness and mismanagement, rampant encroachment and subsequent pollution of Dal went unchecked for years. Lack of political will to restore the lake also gave the encroachers free hand. Though a lot of money has been released for its cleaning and conservation operations, the efforts have gone in vain due to the lack of effective coordination between the concerned agencies. This has also been pointed out by experts. The LA committee had also suggested formation of a separate ministry for conservation of water bodies besides recommending involvement of foreign consultants. Though these recommendations are worth consideration, but given the past experience, one cannot expect much from the outside assistance unless it is coupled with substantial efforts at the local level. Restoration of Dal has become a daunting task owing to the plethora of challenges which have emerged over the years like rehabilitation of the thousands of families living in the interiors of the lake. Corrupt practices of officials and apathetic attitude of successive governments has led to deterioration of Dal to such an extent that it is looking difficult to even salvage a part of it. In the last-ditch effort to save the lake from extinction the concerned agencies will have to coordinate their work. The state government on its part needs to ensure proper utilization of the funds. Dal is an asset bestowed by nature without which Kashmir is incomplete. Human intervention has pushed it to the brink of extinction. And it is human intervention alone which can save it for posterity.

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