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, May 12, 2012

Pahalgam in Shambles

The word will not take long to spread

Pahalgam in Shambles: Dilapidated Roads, Poor Sanitation, Messy Healthcare, Troubles Tourists

D S Ahmad (Kashmir Times)

Pahalgam: Despite being the world famous tourist destination, Pahalgam continues to face the official neglect in terms of infrastructure development causing severe inconvenience to all the locals, hoteliers and tourists visiting the spot. Roads, sanitation, health care and electricity everything remains in a messy state with locals and other people associated with the tourism industry crying hoarse for attention of the concerned authorities.

All the roads leading to the areas where the A-class hotels and sophisticated huts are situated are dotted with such a big potholes that the tourists prefer to stay in B-class hotels on the main road passing through Pahalgam town.

“Most of the A-class hotels and huts here are located in surroundings of the main town but the roads leading to these hotels are totally in a dilapidated condition which does not only cause severe agonies to the tourists but affects the business of the hoteliers and hut owners also,” said a hotelier Mohammad Imran. Laripora road, Circuit road, Aru road and other link roads resemble that of the roads of an undeveloped remote village.

“It was a bitter experience to choose the circuit road for entering the Pahalgam town. The road is in such a bad condition that I had to even face the abuses of the tourists I was carrying for choosing the road. The road besides being in worst condition is too narrow also that we had a narrow escape at many places,” said Manjit, a driver from Jammu.

The condition of the Laripora road, Golf Course Road and Aru Road where many famous A-class hotels are located is no better thus causing immense hardships to the tourists. “Seeing the condition of the roads leading to our hotels the tourists always narrate bitter stories after making it the hotel. They have to face lot of inconvenience as their vehicles also suffer damages while traveling on the roads dotted with potholes,” said a manager of the A-class hotel wishing anonymity.

The sanitation at the scenic resort is also out of gear with garbage, filth and horse shit could be seen lying scattered everywhere around. Health care too is in a messy state with only health centre remaining devoid of all the basic facilities causing inconvenience to the locals.

President of the Pahalgam hoteliers and owners association (PHOA), Javed Ahmad Burza, discredits the claims of the authorities about the infrastructure development at the tourist place.

“Everything including roads, sanitation, cleanliness and electricity remains out of order here. The claims of the authorities about the development in Pahalgam is nothing more than a big lie. There is no comprehensive plan with the authorities about the development of this world famous scenic spot,” Burza said. He said that even during the slight rains mud instead of water comes out of taps causing inconvenience to the guests. Burza added that their repeated pleas to the PDA authorities about the repair of roads in Pahalgam always fell on deaf ear. “We several times approached the PDA authorities for repair of at least the link roads but every time they promised us to repair those. But the promise was not kept," Burza said.

When contacted chief executive officer, PDA, Mir Altaf Ahmad, admitted the bad condition of the roads and said only the link roads fall in the jurisdiction of PDA. "The main road and the circuit road are the jurisdiction of R & B department while link roads fall in our jurisdiction which will be repaired soon," CEO said. He said once the work on the drainage system is completed they will undertake the repair work of link roads.

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