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.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saving Anchar Lake

Majeed says the lake is under the authority of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which appears to be unfamiliar with the concept of lake conservation, leading him to appeal directly to public

(Dr. Abdul Majeed Kak, 65, was born and in Nowhatta, Srinagar. He received his primary education from the Government Middle School in Nowhatta and his secondary school education from Bagi Dilawar Khan Higher Secondary School in Fateh Kadal. He completed his college education at the Islamia College of Science and Commerce in Srinagar. In 1977 he was the first candidate from the University of Kashmir to be selected by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of the Government of India for a doctoral research scholarship at the university leading to a Ph.D. in Botany in 1980. He is currently the Research Coordinator in the Department of Botany at the Islamia College of Science and Commerce in Srinagar. Dr. Kak has over 35 years of teaching experience and research experience of over 25 years. He has received numerous research awards resulting in publication of 70 research papers and has authored two books on Botany. He is presently engaged in promoting and strengthening local and regional museums, a project supported by a grant from the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi.)


Once tourists visited this lake in large numbers, Anchar lake was connected with the illustrious Dal Lake through a channel called Nallah Aamir Khan. Anchar Lake was neat and clean with its crystal clear waters used for drinking as well as for other domestic purposes. It is on records that visitors used to take a boat ride from Dal Lake to the Khushal Sar lake and used to stroll all around this lake. It is also said that the tourists used to come in house boats spending nights together there in cool breeze summers, gazing at the reflections of gigantic mountains like Mahadave and Tungal Ball. Unfortunately it was declared as a dead lake, because of its deteriorated condition. Encroachments by surrounding residents are going on war footing basis with illegal constructions and if these conditions persist and no strict measures are taken for its restoration, then the lake will perish very soon.

The government is in no way serious about it. No Waterways authority has been created to guard and take action against land grabbers. Presently the lake is under the authority of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which is overburdened with its own work and is unable to understand the concept of lake conservation. For the past many years there has been much deterioration and its peripheries are witnessing rapid illegal encroachments without any check by the concerned authorities. In the interior of the lake, marshlands have been created directly from the Lake Basin and large scale cultivation of water weeds as cash crops is practiced such as English willows (used for wicker work) are grown on large tracks. Small but concrete chambers used for baking of English willow branches have also been installed close to its shores and the residual matters are directly poured into the lake that has multiplied the stress on lake.

On large chunks of land leaving small water pathways in between are cultivated poplars and willows that have turned whole peripheral areas into a thick forest as a result not a single ray of light penetrating inside the lake which will lead to the wiping of all flora and fauna. Besides there are many other reasons that has made this lake almost dead. Few years before, environmentalists raised a cry about the liquid and solid biomedical wastes of SKIMS which is directly poured in lake. Although some measures were taken by the authorities of the Institute on the behest of Pollution Control Board and two furnaces were installed in 2008 for the disposal of solid wastes. But only one remained in function and is not sufficient to cater the function of disposal of all solid wastes. But disposal of liquid wastes is still problem, there is no proper disposal for it.

When a local boatman was asked regarding these disposals he put both his hands on ears, saying that the population of surrounding areas is suffocating as the amputated human body parts are directly thrown in the lake without following any proper disposing methods. The smell after their decay suffocates the entire area besides, attracting scavengers and other predators, causing nuisance. Part of River Sind with its glacial water enters the lake from its northern side contributing to its malady by filling it with tons of silt. Many of its out lets have filled up and are converted into permanent lands which are presently used by the locals for cultivation of vegetables and other crash crops. Discharge of untreated effluents, sewage from surrounding human settlements is directly pouring in it. Putrefied domestic animals are seen floating in its waters, making the lake water extremely polluted and filthy. Nauseous smell stifles the explorers and prevents them to move beyond for survey.

The fauna and flora once excellently thriving few decades before are now replaced by eutrophic weeds. Many of medicinal and nutritional plants of the lake are either totally extinct or are near extinction. Close to Sluice gate (second gate of Dal Lake) at Nalabal Nowshera, is a large scale washing centres of Kashmiri shawls, which discharges thick layers of detergent foam daily, that ultimately enters Anchar lake, via Khushal sar, that has further contaminated and deteriorated the pathetic condition of Anchar Lake.

There is an immediate need to protect this valley lake that has been completely ignored by the Government. Massive funds are allotted to other valley lakes every year, lake and waterways are created for their restoration and up gradation, unfortunately no attention is paid towards Anchar Lake, which is dying slowly with the negligence of Government. Serious thought is needed in order to regain its past glory. Nallah Aamir Khan Canal is squeezed from both sides by the influential locals and has been turned into a dustbin for all sorts of garbage and trash thrown directly in it. Even an ordinary small boat cannot pass through it and not to talk of a spacious houseboat or tourist Shikara. Rowing of such boats in the Nallah was a common practice few decades before. clearing and drugging of this canal is badly needed. Court orders after surveying revenue records of this canal should be strictly implemented to push back the land grabbers. Stoppage of peripheral encroachment from Soura, Buchpora to umarhear is immediately needed.

There is an immediate need to generate awareness about this lake so that people know its importance and advantage. Construction of well planed sewage network with filtration plants to arrest the flow of toxic waste into this lake is also needed on priority basis. Few settlement tanks should also be constructed to restrict heavy loads of silt coming from River Sind. Restriction is immediately implemented for loaded trucks carrying building materials in these areas and law breakers should be heavily penalized. Pathetic condition of Anchar lake, floating carcasses. 

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