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

The City Politicians are Rich, it is Just the City is poor

Two "exemplary examples" of a city becoming a large wasteland as reported in the Rising Kashmir

SMC has no Money to buy Dustbins

Sameer Showkin Lone

Srinagar: Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) is facing acute shortage of funds to buy dustbins for improved garbage disposal in the City. The lack of funds has badly affected the Corporation’s ongoing cleanliness drive across the summer capital and heaps of garbage can be seen lying on roadsides.

However, contrary to this the Corporation recently announced setting up of a gym centre costing Rs 10 lakh at Rainawari, a move people have resented.

“I can’t expect that SMC will give priority to a gym centre over dustbins which are so important for garbage collection and its disposal. This is wastage of funds,” said Altaf Ahmad, a local.

Official documents, a copy of which lies with Rising Kashmir reveal that the proposed budget for sanitation for the year 2010-2011 was Rs 82 lakhs, which includes purchase of disinfectants, conservancies equipment, garbage collection equipment, snow clearance equipment, sanitation fee and other programmes. Out of this amount, Rs 50 lakhs were solely proposed for purchasing disinfectants, conservancies and garbage collection equipment, the documents reveal.

Earlier the SMC authorities planned to distribute 10,000 colour-coded dustbins to the city households, but seven months have passed and the plan is yet to be implemented.

SMC authorities on the other side have put the blame on people saying that they (people) do not cooperate with the Corporation in keeping the city clean.

Talking to Rising Kashmir, Commissioner SMC, Sheikh Mushtaq said people neither cooperate with the Corporation nor they pay sanitation charges towards the department, which creates financial problems to them.

Mushtaq further said one dustbin costs around Rs 8000 to 10,000. “When people won’t pay their sanitary dues to SMC, how can we generate the money to buy dustbins and run other expenses,” he added.

Dirty Public Lavatories Puts Srinagar to Shame

Sameer Showkin

Srinagar: The government may be enthused by record number of tourist arrivals this year, but Srinagar city, which usually serves as the first stop for the visitors, continues to cut a sorry figure on account of poor sanitation facilities including public lavatories.

Recently, a group of tourists from Gujarat discovered the ugly side of the city when after half an hour’s search they found a lavatory at Dalgate intersection with walls and floor smeared with faeces and garbage all around.

“We had a different impression about this place, but after this experience and that too on the very first day of our visit the image in our minds has completely changed,” the tourist family said.

The shopkeepers at Dalgate said after the construction of the lavatory, it functioned smoothly for a year and had one rupee ticket per head.

“But later the persons who were managing the lavatory decamped with its electric motor and pipes. Since then nobody bothered to renovate it.”

The shopkeepers said they had appealed Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) to renovate the lavatory, but to no avail.

A casual visit to other tourist places in Srinagar and one can find either defunct or dilapidated public lavatories. From Dalgate to Batamaloo, only two lavatories are functional, one at Residency Road and another at Polo View.

Lal Chowk, the business centre of the city, is also witness to encroached footpaths and garbage-littered roadsides.

“Who would imagine that this was once a centre of Kashmir politics. Many towering political leaders have addressed public rallies here since 1947,” said Ghulam Qadir, a shopkeeper, while pointing towards the encroached footpaths and heaps of garbage.

He said a single lavatory at Regal Chowk is not sufficient for thousands of people who visit the city centre.

Just three kilometers from Lal Chowk is Batamaloo Bus Stand which witnesses heavy rush of people throughout the day and the only public toilet there is in shambles.

“The toilet leaks on to the street causing problems for both shopkeepers and passersby,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a fruit vendor.

Meanwhile, Chief Sanitation officer SMC, Manzoor Ahmad claimed that only few lavatories are defunct.

“I have not visited the Dalgate lavatory myself, but in the next few days I will visit the place and the matter will be looked into.”

He further said that SMC is planning to renovate all the toilets and will also construct some more toilets at congested public places,

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