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, March 3, 2012

Stinking Srinagar

The Editorial in the Rising Kashmir states that the city has suffered from lack of civic sense as much as it has from government apathy

Shabby Srinagar

Streets littered with garbage is a common sight in Srinagar city. At times with heaps of garbage lying unattended, the local residents and shopkeepers at many places are left with no choice but to remove it themselves. The Srinagar Municipality Corporation Karamcharies have reportedly stopped cleaning the roads and drains in these areas after local residents refused to pay sanitation fee. Perhaps people’s refusal to pay Rs 50 per month as sanitation fee stems from their bad experience about SMC’s performance as far as sanitation in residential areas is concerned.

Many locals also complain that despite several reminders, the authorities have not installed dustbins in their areas. People have long been concerned over the deteriorating sanitation conditions of the city. No wonder, the ranking of Srinagar as the fourth dirtiest city in India, in a survey by Urban Development Ministry, did not come as a surprise for most city dwellers. We have become used to dusty and garbage-littered streets. The authorities are yet to employ modern means of waste disposal and management. With the amount of waste growing by the day, there is bleak prospect for residents to have clean streets. Stray dog population has also increased manifold over the years adding to the unhygienic look of the city. Srinagar has traditionally served as one of the choicest tourist destinations, but with its worsening condition it won’t be a surprise if the tourist arrivals also show a steep decline in coming times. The state government can learn from the dramatic transformation of Delhi from a polluted metro to a better planned and greener city. Maintaining a city’s charm is not all about erecting fountains at main avenues or dismantling footpaths in the name of road widening, it is about maintaining the basic standards of sanitation and aesthetics. A casual tour through Srinagar city and one can realize the chaos it is descending into. The city is beset with plethora of civic problems.

Roads inundated with potholes, overflowing drains, non-functional street lights, long and frequent traffic jams, heaps of unattended garbage, packs of stray dogs, footpaths and roadsides encroached by bunkers...the list is endless. All these issues also deprive the city of its aesthetic charm. The government has failed to address all these issues despite announcing funds for various developmental projects from time to time. For making Srinagar a clean and orderly city, the contribution of people is vital. Without people’s active support, any ambitious project in revamping the city will fall flat. The city has suffered from lack of civic sense as much as it has from government indifference and shortsightedness. To help restore its lost glory is therefore a collective responsibility.

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