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, April 21, 2012

Nageen Lake Dying

 Nageen is dying as two stakeholders - houseboat owners and the lake authority (LAWDA) - point fingers at each other

 Tourism Woes

 M Afzal Sofi (Kashmir Images)

 Srinagar: At a time when authorities claim to make strides to explore new tourist destinations in valley so as to attract maximum number of tourists, age old destinations seem to be neglected by few, playing spoilsport for the tourism industry in Kashmir. Houseboat owners in the world famous Nageen lake blame that the drainage system constructed by Lakes and Waterways Development Authorities (LAWDA) in residential areas around the lake have its outlets open into the lake putting tons of waste into it daily.

 “The drainage system despite being under construction has been put to use by the households located on the banks of lake, who put their waste through it into the lake. The LAWDA authorities despite knowing the fact are turning a blind eye to this sensitive issue,” claimed Mohammad Khaliq Wangnoo, President Travel Agent Society of Kashmir who also owns three houseboats in the Nageen Lake. He claimed that there are around one hundred outlets of this drainage system open into the lake putting the waste from Lal Bazaar, Sadar Bal, Bota Kadal, Badshah Mohalla and other localities into it which jeopardizes the very existence of the lake. 

“This is going on with consent and knowledge of LAWDA officials,” claimed Wangnoo. Wangnoo said that the deposition of waste material in the lake at several spots has turned into a cesspool and is stinking to the extent that tourist prefer to remain away from it. “This has affected our business largely,” said Wangnoo. He said that they are wrongly being portrayed as major lake polluters when there are other main agents causing of pollution to the lake.

“It has been rumored around that houseboat owners in Nageen and Dal are main polluters of these lakes and we have been put under severe restrictions that we are not even allowed to repair our houseboats,” said Wangnoo. He said that government on one hand claim to restore the glory of lake and on other hand authorities ordained to do it contribute to its slow death. He said that LAWDA, before constructing the drainage system had promised to construct the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) which has been under construction for several years showing no signs of completion.

However, the authorities of LAWDA rubbished the blames and said that construction of drainage system has been carried out according to the proper plan and it does not have even a single outlet into the lake. “Also STP is at the last stage of construction which will be put to use within one month,” Irfan Yaseem, Vice Chairman, LAWDA told Kashmir Images. He said that instead of blaming authorities, houseboat owners should first introspect their own doings as they are the people who live inside the lake and contribute to its pollution consistently. “They mint the huge sum from the tourists but shy away in installing septic bathroom system in their boats citing financial constraints,” said Yaseen.

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