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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Verinag Goes the Dal Way

Government shares some responsibility, but in the end Verinag can only be saved by people who wish to save it


Verinag: Many tourist spots in this area are facing extinction threat due to the lackadaisical approach of the government. The largest fresh water springs- ‘Vitasta’ the chief source of river Jehlum, 30 km from Anantnag town, here in south Kashmir was once a major tourist attraction but off late the government apathy has marred its serene beauty as encroachments are galore and pollution of water bodies continues unabated.

“The sewage and drainage emanating from the toilets, kitchens and bathrooms of the house-hold flows directly into the river Jehlum right from the water-fall thus polluting it,” said the residents adding that the municipal authorities also dump the solid waste on its banks.

They said that the encroachments have come up on both sides of the river at many places including on the Trout Nallah in Kanilpora, Choontipora, Baghwanpura, Malikpora and Shaksaz Mohalla with authorities acting as mute spectators.

They said that if the trend continues the day is not far away when all the water tributaries of Verinag will get blocked and get reduced to mere cesspools.

“Though there is development authority existing on papers but it has hardly made a difference. They have put the boundaries around the already encroached river tributaries thus shrinking these further, disturbing the natural habitat of the aquatic fish and also destroying the natural heritage,” said Shafiq Ahmad. He suggested that the historical Mughal Sarai at Omaha should have been under the observation of Verinag Development Authority (VDA) as it once used to be a major tourist attraction. He said that scenic spots like Sarabal, known for fresh water springs and Gagan Maidan if provided proper infrastructure can be a major attraction for tourists while Brari glacier located 30 kms from Verinag on the higher reaches can be ideal winter sport tourist destinations.

“There is no proper infrastructure at place near the historical tourist Dak bungalow where the former Prime Ministers including Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi used to put up. The Dak bungalow was gutted in nineties and since then it has not been repaired,” said another resident, Farooq Ahmad. He said the lack of accommodation and other infrastructure facilities forces tourists to remain away from this scenic spot.

“The tourism department and Jammu Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) should set up good huts, hotels and restaurants to bring this place back on the tourist map,” said Farooq. He, however, added that the focus should be on developing the place as the eco-tourism tourist destination. Famous Botanical garden in the area is in a pathetic condition. “There is no urinal facility available for the general public,” they said.

This tourist resort, also called the golden corridor is connected to the Link road via Lower- Munda on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway and the locals opine that the government should have ensured that the tourists visit Verinag before they proceed to other tourist destinations like Pahalgam and Gulmarg. “The condition of Islamabad-Verinag-Kapran via Omaha is pathetic. If macadamized it would further reduce the distance to Verinag from the Highway by 10 kms and tourists would also love to enjoy the sparkling beauty of the region,” said the locals. (Greater Kashmir)

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