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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why is the New SPS Museum Still in a Limbo?

Construction delays in completing the Sri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum have been exasperated by a total lack of civil society support

Official Neglect Mars Heritage Preservation

Bismah Malik (Tribune News Service)

Srinagar: The preservation of rich cultural heritage of Kashmir has fallen prey to official apathy. It is evident from the fact that the construction of Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum Complex in Srinagar is awaiting completion since 2007 with several plans remaining only on paper.

The construction of the new museum, estimated to cost Rs 30 crore, was started four years ago when then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad laid its foundation stone at Lal Mandi, Srinagar, where the old SPS museum building is located. The SPS Complex is a five-storeyed building, which houses the museum and a library.

The new museum will incorporate advanced facilities such as central heating, landscaping and plush interior designs.

However, to date only the exterior structure of the building has been completed and the layout work is still pending, awaiting approval from the higher authorities.

The Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums, along with the Police Housing Corporation, have been entrusted with the responsibility of construction of museum but nothing concrete has been achieved so far.

Sources said persistent negligence by the authorities is the reason behind the slow pace of the construction project. Even private parties are not adhering to the rules and deadlines.

Mumbai-based design firm, Matrica, hired for the interior designing of the project, is supposed to complete the same within 18 months (four phases).

Sources said the first phase of research analysis had been completed and the tenders might be floated anytime soon.

Deputy Director, Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Peerzada Muhammad Ashraf, said: “The final design by Matrica has already been approved and handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation, which will float tenders for the construction purposes”.

“The interior design is supposed to be the most intricate work. We might even employ artisans from outside for the assignment. We have been in touch with leading architects from the Valley and outside,” he added. The State Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Ringzin Jora, has directed the department officials as well as the private firm to expedite the work and ensure the deadlines are met.

“We have clear instructions from the minister that in case the work is not completed on time, we might even look for another architectural agency. We are expecting that at least two galleries are completed and ready for use in another six months,” Ashraf said.

Despite Kashmir’s magnificent heritage and culture, the successive state governments have paid no heed to the construction of museums.

“The project cost has already crossed Rs 50 crore. The various intermediate agencies, which the state government employs, have been missing deadlines regularly. The construction of new SPS museum complex by the end of this year is unlikely,” an official said.

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