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, March 30, 2012

National Backbone

Ashraf presented the following paper at a meeting of the Institution of Engineers India, J&K State Center, a few years back

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)


The new century has dawned on us, with high expectations, carrying some spectacular successes, and some bitter memories of the past. The J & K State faces serious problems and challenges, centered around, unprecedented disturbing situation, coupled with rise in population. The pace of all walks of life, has got accelerated, during the last half century, and so, has been the case, with the growing anxieties, and events, causing misery, and death, during its last decade.

We welcomed the 21st Century, with an estimated population of one crore, and shall be seeing it off, with an estimated present decadal growth of about 30% i.e., thirteen times more. That means, we shall be needing an infrastructures as many times, if we have to keep pace, with the rising population challenges.

The need for more living space, more food, water and power, more infrastructure, the need to manage the stupendous waste generated by rapidly increasing population, invites Engineers to play their role to face the challenges.

The achievement of the engineers in last century can be gauged from some of the available statistics (enclosed separately)

At the beginning of 20th century with 8.14-lakh populations, there was absence of roads for vehicular traffic in Kashmir. Now we have 13800 KMs of roads. There was no electricity in 1900 AD Mohra powerhouse was set up in 1907-08 (18 MW’s). The need for perspective planning – well in advance and mobilization of (already scarce), resources, and proper man-power planning, to handle the situation, with strong political will and enforcement, shall be required to keep pace with time in J & K State. Presently Financial Crunch, due to various reasons besides diversion of funds, to non developmental works like security measures, as warranted by the circumstances, has affected adversely, the achievement of targets, during the last decade, still the Engineers have risen to the occasion, and worked among adverse conditions, even-risking their lives. Credit needs to be given, to those who stood in their position when safe return to their homes, from duties, at the end of the day, or even staying at home, was full of risks, and mental agony.

Expansion is a law of nature. Universe is expanding in unlimited space so are our cities but there is resulting into shrinking of ground space.

There is far accelerated thrust of change, in all sectors of life, all over the world, for example in the formation of the cities, we are now undergoing the most extensive and rapid urbanization, the World has every seen. In 1850, only four cities, on the face of earth, had had population of 10 lakhs or more, by 1900, the number, had increased to nineteen. But by 1960, there were 141, and to-day, world Urban population, is rocketing upwards, at a rate of 6.5% per year, according to the institute of social science in the Hague. This single stark statistic means a doubling of the earth’s urban population, within eleven years.

One can imagine, what would happen if all existing cities, instead of expanding, retained their present size. If this were so, in order to accommodate, the new urban millions, we would have to build a duplicate city, for each of the hundreds that already dot the globe. A new Tokyo, a new Hamburg, a new Rome and Rangoon, a New Delhi, a new Srinagar and a new Jammu – and all within eleven years. (This explains why French urban planners are sketching subterranean cities- stores, museums, warehouses and factories, to be built, under the earth, & why a Japanese architect, has blue- printed, a city, to be built, on stilts out over the occan.

The Srinagar Master Plan, indicates expansion of local area from 236 SQ KMs to 416 SQ. KMs between 2000-2021 and rise in population from 12 lakhs to 23.50 lakhs (this includes tourist and Durbar Move population) With this pace of increase it means that at the end of 2100, we shall be needing about, thirty two times more infrastructure to contain the exploding population growth. Hence, consequent role of challenge to the planners, engineers can be imagined.

Such change, in the ratio between old and new, shall have an electric impact on the habits, beliefs and self-image of people. Never in previous history, has this ratio been transformed, so radically, in so brief a flick of time. What seems to be need of the time, is to help create, the consciousness, needed for man to undertake, the control of change, the guidance of his evolution. For, by making imaginative use, of change, to channel change, we can not only spare ourselves, the trauma of future shock, we can reach out and humanize distant tomorrow.

We have a bitter experience, of abuse of various Master Plans, prepared so far. Particularly the one of the city of Srinagar. Perhaps due to frequent changes of Government and their differing attitudes, coupled with lack of civic sense, of the General Public, resulting into, present disastrous environment.

Though, peace time is an ideal for construction work, yet the real challenge, comes to Engineer, during war time. To restore destruction, within a shortest possible time and under unfavorable trying circumstances – is a real challenge, which we have been facing unprecedently, by proxy, for the last over a decade. We pray for restoration of peace, but as Chinese say, “if you want peace, be prepared for war”, so we have to be prepared to face the war like situation, and deal with the challenges on war footing basis. In the beginning of 20th century, Lawrence, writes, that the history of Kashmir has witnessed frequent changes of rulers and absence of continuity in the administration, have had a powerful effect, on the character of Kashmiris, but the incidents of physical history of the Valley during nineteenth century, have also done much, to unsettle the people, and to make them suspicious and incredulous. Among the incidents, of physical history, he has described in detail, fires, floods, earth-quakes, famines and choleras and it is hardly to be wondered at. That a people constantly liable, to these calamites, should be skeptical and doubtful, as to whether things are ordered for the best. He says, that the Kashmiris always gives me the idea, that he has just recovered, from a fright, or that he is expecting some great disaster, and hardly a day passes, with-out reference being made, to the curse under which, the people, have fallen and to the sin, which gave rise to the curse.

The present scenario of thinking, at the beginning of the 21st century, does not seem to have altered/ changed, except that the nature of disaster, has taken a different shape i.e. instead of natural, it is now-man-made.

In the last century the world has witnessed two No. World wars and the middle of 20th century has witnessed freedom form Maharaja’s rule to uneasy democratic set-up of J & K State and development through nine No. five year plans for last half century with break up of funding rising from Rs 11.51 crore to Rs 10,000 crores.

It shows that during the fifty years, there is nine hundred times increase in funding.

i) 1st Plan 1951-56 Rs 11.51 crores
ii) 2nd Plan 1956-61 Rs 25.95 ,,
iii) 3rd Plan 1961-66 Rs 61.68 ,,
iv) Inter Plan period 1966-69 Rs 59.50 ,,
v) 4th Plan 1969-74 Rs 162.85 ,,
vi) 5th Plan 1974-79 Rs 278.54 ,,
vii) 6th Plan 1980-85 Rs 918.15 ,,
viii) 7th Plan 1985-90 Rs 2006.23 ,,
ix) Annual Plan 1990-91 Rs 642.69 ,,
x) Annual Plan 1991-92 Rs 823.46 ,,
xi) 8th Plan 1992-97 Rs 4520.07 ,,
xii) 9th Plan 1997-2002 Rs 10,000 ,,

Tenth Five Year Plan

India will embark on its tenth five-year plan from April 1, 2002 aiming at a higher growth rate of the economy at 8 percent annum in the period 2002-07.

Sustained economic growth, averaging around 6 percent, during the last two decades, has not translated its self, into visible gains, in terms of poverty alleviation or the guarantee of basic minimum needs of rural India, which accounts for nearly three fourths, of the one billion population. With this background, the approach paper, for the tenth plan, drawing lessons from the past, outlines a strategy, which integrated higher growth, with equity and social justices.

All the five-year plans, had kept amelioration of poverty, and full employment as basic objectives, but the bulk of public resources had been allocated for the Development of Physical infrastructure. The Planning Commission has set, specific monitor able targets, such as reduction of poverty-ratio to 20 percent from the current estimated 26 to 30 percent by 2007, employment for the addition to the labor force, during the plan period, universal access to primary education and increase in literacy to 72 percent (form 65 percent at present) by 2007, lowering of infant mortality rate, and provision of potable drinking water in villages,

Social development, relatively, neglected so far, is a vast area, where the private sector, will not venture, to invest or participate, to any significant extent, the State has to ensure fair competitions, and safeguard consumer’s interest.

Economic liberalization of the 1990’s, yielding place to market forces, altered the contours of planning, and the role of the Govt, from a controller to a facilitator. Planning has now become more indicative in character, especially for the private sector, that contributes the major part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through agriculture, industry and services.


In this emerging scenario, the Tenth Plan makes a distinct shift, from an investment-oriented approach, to setting a reform agenda, designed to achieve the social targets, through effective governance. It relies on the, mobilization of the energies of Central and State Government, Panchayati Raj institutions, and non governmental organizations, for the accomplishment, of the clearly spelt-out tasks, of social development. Programs, intended for the poor or targeted groups, must be delivered to them effectively. Many radical changes, in the style of functioning of Government, and its agencies, have been suggested, to bring about greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. The fields of thrust including saving and investment resource Base, infrastructure reforms.

The projected growth of 8 percent will also be linked to, stricken improvements, taking place in infrastructure, particularly in power and railways and investment in irrigation, where Engineer has to play his role.

Power Sector

Power sector has taken a tortuous coarse, over several years, with the result, that very few private investments, have materialized so far, while the states have not implemented, agreed decisions on, revising power tariff. Reorganization of electricity boards, to make them viable and reliable purchasers, of power generated, in the private sector, has been accomplished, in only a few states. Resistance to major structural changes, in the working of the railways, form within has to be over-come, to generate revenue, for urgently required investments on tracks maintenance and safety. During the period ahead in J&K construction of alternative National Highway, widening of existing Highway to 4-lane traffic is on the cards.

We must expect completion of the rail link to the valley, involving massive tunneling, through mountainous reaches, during this century.

By learning the lesson, form the past mistakes, in fixing priorities, it is felt that all other development could wait, but maximum thrust should have been given to the Development of power in J&K State, where nature was benevolent regarding hydro potential. This could have led to all other subsequent development like roads, building and other infrastructure, still time is not lost, when this sector can be prioritized. Taking an example, from he Scandinavian countries, who just manufacture and export hydroelectric power and import the rest commodities, which may even be a match box.

In J&K, we have a hydropower potential of 10,075 Mega watts in Indus, Chenab and Jehlum Basins we have a potential of 4004 Mega Watts; in Indus and Jehlum basins alone, against the present installed capacity of 405 Mega Watts in Kashmir Valley. To check heavy losses, the Hon’ble Chief Minister, has recently hinted at, laying of underground cable, in a phased manner.

The power sector in India including J&K is characterized by an inefficient distribution system, owing to inadequate investment and unplanned growth. This results in large losses, interruption in power, and poor voltage. The lack of metering arrangement, at the various stages of the distribution chain, especially agriculturists without meters, makes it difficult, for a proper energy accounting. Hence the need for an Action Plan.

To effect reforms, in the power sector, the Centre has approved, the accelerated power development programme (APDP). With an outlay of Rs 1000 crores in 2000-01. APDP is expected to bring down, the generation cost, thus bringing down the cost of power to the common person. APDP would finance projects, for renovation and modernization/ life extension/ upgrading, of old power plants, and up gradation of sub transmission and distribution network, including energy accounting and metering. Although the Ministry of Power, has already prepared a plan, and taken steps for generation, of additional one lakh MW of electricity, to meet the power demand by 2012, the APDP scheme is expected to improve the situation in the shutdown. This will give relief of the people, suffering from shortage of electricity. The immediate benefit of the schemes, are expected to be visible, to the people through improvement, in plant inefficiency and renovation and modernization of old plants.

APDP will continue, till the year 2012 with enhanced outlay, form 2001-02 onwards. The 1st. Phase fifty (50), distribution circles, in 16 different states, have been identification for implementing the programme. It is geared to cover the remaining distribution circle, in the country in a phased manner, utilizing the funds available under APDP.

In the case of special category states, like J&K and Himachel Pradesh, the entire cost of the projects, will be met under APDP in the form of 90% grant and 10% loan. In the case of non special states 50% of the project cost will be met form APDP, out of which half will be in the form of grant, and half as loan. The remaining 50% of the cost of the project, can be met by the utility, form the state’s internal resources, or loans from the Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, Financial institutions, and supplier’s credit.

Theft of power alone, estimated to cost the country, over Rs 20,000 crores, every year. If this revenue is saved, the power sector can show positive returns. This amount would be sufficient, to wipe out the existing cumulative losses of the State electricity Boards (S.E.B’s).

While the budget, allocation in the current year of for APDP is Rs. 1000 crores, another Rs. 1000 crores in proposed to be raised form institutions like the Power Finance Corporation, IDBI and ICICI.

The High Lights of Budget 2001-02 for Power:

The Central Government, to accelerate the programme of reforms in SEB’s anchored in the Centre-State Partnership are:

a. Time bound programme, for installation of, (100%) hundred percent metering, by December 2001.
b. Energy audit, at all levels.
c. A specific programme, for reduction and eventual, elimination of power theft.
d. Tariff determination, by SERCS and compliance thereof.
e. Commercializing of distribution.
f. SEB restructuring.
g. Allocation of the accelerated power Development programme, (APDP) stepped upto Rs. 1,500 crores, from a level of Rs. 1000 crores in 2000-01.
h. Electricity bill 2001 to be introduced.
i. The plan outlay for central sector Power utilization is being raised form Rs. 9194 crores, for 2000-01, to B.E. of Rs. 10,030 crores for 2001-02.

In the future plans the other thrust areas have to be in Agriculture, Housing, Development of roads, Industries, Protection of cultural Heritage, management of water bodies, traffic and transportation, Irrigation, water supply, drainage and sewerage, solid waste management, education social infrastructure (Health) Urban and Rural Development, Telecommunication, information technology and tapping of non-convential energy sources etc.

Other important sector, inviting our attention in J&K should be to promote Tourism, for which and even for other development, a congenital atmosphere, needs to be got created, to invite tourists, which warrants to buy peace, with our neighboring countries, at any cost. In this connection, aftermath of world war II should provide us a lesson, when after a great massacre and devastation, the warring countries, had to ultimately come round, on the negotiating table, and establish peace, on give and take basis, and have friendly relations, for mutual development, and prosperity. It is hoped that our countries, shall reverse the process, by negotiating, equip pad with mature statesmanship, before devastation take place – pangs of which are felt every day from the media. This must be an immediate concern of all right thinking people. Similarly instead of treating the disease of terrorism, we must locate its cause and check it there.

Once late Mr. B. K. Nehru, the then Governor of J&K, gave at home at Jammu, Raj Bhavan, when there was an annual function of National Anatomical Society of India, in which Doctor form National and some International level attended. While getting introduced, among doctors, I introduced myself as an Engineer, on which the Governor expressed surprise as how come an Engineer among Doctors. I replied, Sir, all existence is a feat of Engineering, God/ was/ is/ will be a perfect Engineer who visualized, planned, designed and executed, this universe, and also created Man, among others, and it is the man who polluted this earth, and that is why, you find so many doctors around. It brought a hearty laughter all around.

Thus the role of an Engineer is to imagine, plan, design execute and maintain, and may be even to destroy in war time and also manage disaster, which process, is on a micro level, a reflection of the task in which Almighty Allah/ Nature is busy, round the clock. If you happen to see bridges constructed on the National Highway from Baramulla to Uri, there are blasting chambers, provided in the masonry abutments fro their destruction during wartime. So destruction and its management is a subject of civil/ Military Engineering when required.

It takes Centuries to build, but a moment to destroy, as we have witnessed on 11 September 2001, disaster of collapsing of World Trade Centre in U.S.A, posing a challenge to the Engineers, to consider new design aspects, for man-made disaster management, in addition to Natural Disaster Management.

Let us pray that we be destined to construct than to destruct in the century ahead of us.

Incidentally, I may tell you that barring few centenarians we were not there, in this world when last century dawned and we shall not be there when the present century will end, on 2100 AD. So we must leave our short-lived foot prints on the vast sea shore of time.

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