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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gone to Dogs

A city with 92000 canines mocks at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC)

Stray Dogs Rule the Roost in Srinagar

Srinagar: The dog population in winter capital has reached a stage where some quarters have urged the authorities to treat the menace as a law and order problem. According to rough estimates, there are around 92000 stray canines that have `terrorized' the local population. It is these stray canines that rule the roost in the city and its outskirts at night.

A PIL was moved in the J&K High Court on April 1, 2011 against the dog menace. The High Court on 28th April, 2011 directed the state government to provide funds for construction of dog ponds on the outskirts of Srinagar and directed the Municipal Authorities to complete the task within four weeks. The court also directed the authorities concerned to start sterilization programme in phased manner after the canines were shifted to these pond.

Though SMC started sterilization program in 2012 but constructing ponds for dogs is still a distant dream. People allege that the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) seems to have turned a blind eye towards the problem. A large number of people get bitten by these dogs on a regular basis. For children, it has become difficult to come out of their houses. According to doctors, treating the people who suffer injuries due to dog bites, say that on an average 300 people are attacked by dogs every month and so for dozens have lost their lives which include a good number of infants and school going children of age group between 6 to 12 years.

2012 saw some novel protests in Srinagar city against growing dog menace including the one wherein a sitting MLA brought a truck load of stray dogs and made an unsuccessful attempt to free the dogs inside civil secretariat, Srinagar.

Though the Municipal authorities claim of having brought the situation under control but the ground realities suggest that the threat from stray dogs is as severe as it was in May 2012 when the government first started sterilization of stray dogs. According to Commissioner SMC, Dr. Qasba, dog menace was really a big challenge and SMC has of course taken some measures to tackle this menace. Qasba says on one hand SMC has streamlined garbage dumping and has disciplined the garbage lifting system which was the major cause for growing of dog menace in Srinagar owing to the fact that stray dogs sustain on open garbage.

"We have placed order for 34 Hopper Vehicles and the vehicles are coming which would help in clearing the garbage as the vehicle is designed for carrying loose bulk matter efficiently" commissioner SMC said adding that it would help in completely cleaning the garbage collection spot on roadside automatically because garbage is automatically transferred into the carrying vehicle in traveling motion. He said apart from the sterilization program, the corporation was also working on improving sanitation and regular sweeping drives are organized.

"This will lead to the shortage of food for dogs and their population from residential areas will decrease," he said. Commissioner, however, remained confined to the garbage dumping and lifting issue when the actual problem of dog menace still persists and threat to the innocent lives has not evaded.

People from all walks of life have been protesting the issue since last two years but the government has failed in providing any solution to the problem. On the other hand some NGOs have also been resisting any government move aimed at eliminating stray dogs which has compounded the problem.

But the fact remains that despite intervention of the high court the government has failed in constructing dog ponds and the Municipal Corporation Srinagar as in the case of keeping the city clean has failed in tackling the issue of stray dogs thereby risking the life of the people especially the infants. On a single day in summer 2012 over 50 cases of dog bites were reported from around Kashmir Valley with more than half of these incidents taking place within the city.

However, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which announced a dog sterilization drive last year, seems to be helpless in dealing with the situation that has left the residents of the city in terror. People in the city have been demanding that the government should Sterilize and vaccinate these stray dogs to counter-check their increasing number and to prevent the spread of rabies,

Make Dog ponds and take those dogs away from the inhabited places, SMC should ensure Door to Door collection of food wastes instead of the road side bins, Rabies vaccine should be given to the victim of a dog bite in or near the area of the bite, Installation and Repair of street lights, so that people can walk safely on roads and can avoid walking on the sides where dogs are present. (Early Times Report)

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