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, January 9, 2013

Room for Improvement

Srinagar is among the dirtiest cities among the world - rivalling those in sub-sahara region of Africa - because of its incapability to handle municipal waste. Here is an idea

Managing Garbage

Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) can learn from Hyderabad Municipality model of waste management. According to SMC, the city generates 504 Metric Tonnes (MTs) of solid waste on average every day with hotels, hospitals and households being the primary sources. The waste collection in the summer capital has increased from 200 to 400 MTs in last two months alone. The figures reflect burgeoning amount of waste and the concomitant challenge of keeping the summer capital clean.

The city’s poor sanitation has already earned it the dubious distinction of being the fourth dirtiest city in India in a survey by Urban Development Ministry. Streets littered with garbage are a common sight in the city. In the absence of modern means of waste disposal and management, the amount of waste has been growing by the day. Many people attribute the increased population of stray dogs to the unattended garbage lying on streets. Complying with the court orders for segregation of solid waste, the SMC has begun installing about 1000 separate litter bins (500 green litter bins for biodegradable and 500 blue bins for non-biodegradable waste) on main roads and at busy public places in the city. Automated machines and trucks have also been purchased for transportation of the waste. Segregation of waste can make the process of waste management easier. Trucks and five compactors will also help in facilitating waste management. However, mere procurement of bins and vehicles won’t ensure a clean city.

Perhaps, Srinagar can learn from experiences of Hyderabad. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was awarded the “Best City” for 2009-10 for its efforts to improve Solid Waste Management under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The Hyderabad Corporation’s integrated waste management model includes transportation of waste to transfer stations, development of new stations, operation and maintenance, transportation to designated disposal facilities, development of four integrated waste management facilities and reclamation and re-use of existing sites.

At the primary level, GHMC has introduced the twin-bin waste collection system in 45 colonies on a trial basis. A ragpicker collects wastes from 200-250 houses at the rate of Rs 20-30 per month per household. The ragpicker then segregates the waste, keeps recyclables aside and deposits the remains in the large waste bin. This collected waste is then brought to the transfer station. GHMC has seven transfer stations from where the waste is transported in big 25 tonne-capacity vehicles (mostly open truck) for further processing. At present, the transportation and waste disposal are outsourced to Ramky Enviro. For effective waste management, the waste has to be collected, transported and handled properly at the open points where people tend to throw garbage. Srinagar city has suffered from lack of civic sense as much as it has been a victim of government indifference and shortsightedness.

For a clean city, the contribution of people is vital. It’s futile to expect results without people’s active support. Here also SMC can learn from GHMC, which conducts resident welfare association meetings regularly and give them training. The model colony members are invited to share their experiences with others. It is a good way of encouraging people’s participation. (Rising Kashmir)

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