By Hirra Azmat
Srinagar, Jun 05: On the World Environment Day observed on Tuesday, the civil society members lamented the environmental degradation in Kashmir.
The Environmental Policy Group (EPG) in coordination with various tour operators, civil society members, FCIK members, J&K RTI movement held an event to put focus on the environmental concerns.
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day was “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
The organisations, however, said they would “mourn it” instead of celebrating it.
Shakeel Qalander, a civil society member said, the pace at which environmental degradation has been taking place predicts a “bleak future”.
“We are already facing an acute water crisis. The water bodies are dwindling at a fast rate and forest cover is also receding. I fear the worse,” Qalander said.
He stressed on the need to change the attitude of the government towards environmental issues.
“The government has to change their approach and attitude towards the ecology and environment if we are to preserve our water bodies and lakes,” he said.
The civil society member lamented: “Another environment day will be gone by and government will do nothing to preserve the environment.”
Noted satirist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef expressed displeasure over considerable degradation of lakes due to the “lackadaisical attitude of the government”.
“Take the example of fast losing two lakes–Nigeen and Dal Lake. The lake are shrinking in area, because of the encroachments by hoteliers, reduction in volume by silting caused mainly due to catchment area degradation and increased pollution, entry of untreated sewage and solid waste from the peripheral areas and houseboats,” Zareef said.
“The successive governments have failed to implement the laws in place.”
“The government has time and again proved futile in preserving the environment. Unfortunately, there are ample environmental laws but there is no implantation.”
Raja Muzaffar, head of the RTI movement, referred to the sole dumping site Achan’s fast depleting capacity.
“Over the years, the dumping site will be filled to the brim, and there will no alternative at hand. All thanks to the successive regimes,” Muzaffar said.
Environment lawyer, Nadeem Qadri said the government has failed to spend funds on high altitude lakes.
“We have gathered here to form a body which will be voice for preservation of environmental issues and to make government accountable,” he added.
FB’s #10 yr challenge: Netizens mock languishing govt projects in Kashmir
Srinagar, Jan 20: The #10year challenge–the latest rage on Facebook is triggering an unintended consequence in Kashmir.
It has thrown light on the abysmal pace of execution of key developmental projects.
In Kashmir, the government works are conceived and launched with much fanfare, but years, and in some cases decades, pass before they see the light of day.
The #10year challenge, new fad that has taken Facebook by storm and involves a person juxtaposing his or her decade-old photo with the current one, has seen Kashmiri people sharing photos of the incomplete government works here.
Netizens mostly share two similar photos of an incomplete pillar of the Jehangir Chowk-Ram Bagh (JCRB) flyover project, which was announced in 2009 and is still incomplete.
The project has missed multiple deadlines. To shut up the criticism they were receiving for the delay, the authorities opened up one way traffic on the first phase of the project, the overall completion of which is still a distant dream.
Announced in 2009, the construction on the flyover, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at an estimated cost of Rs 359 crore, began in 2013, with September 2016 set as its first deadline. The then chief minister Omar Abdullah had laid the foundation of the flyover.
Apart from JCRB, the other major projects which were started years ago but are yet to be completed include: Boulevard widening project, construction of tunnel on the Mughal Road, and widening of an arterial passage in the capital city, Syed Meerak Shah-Zakura road.
Government had approved the Boulevard widening project in 2009 and had directed the concerned authorities to complete the project on fast-track basis. However, the project is yet to be completed.
The next project following suit is the construction of the tunnel on the Mughal Road.
Fourteen years since the Government of India approved its construction, the project is yet to see the light of the day. The project was approved in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in the state. The proposal was for seven-kilometre long tunnel between Zaznar and Chathapani at 3,000 meters altitude on the 230-year-old Mughal road.
However, the work on the project is yet to be started as a result the road remains closed for nearly six months each year.
Similarly, in 2009 authorities started expansion of the Syed Meerak Shah Road from Dalgate to Zakura, primarily for facilitating smooth flow of vehicular movement through congested areas of old city Srinagar.
The widening project for the 10.33 kilometre road estimated at Rs 336.24 crore was aimed to serve as key surface link to old city Srinagar, Hazratbal shrine and the University of Kashmir. However, ten years have gone by but the project is still lingering.
257 militants killed in 2018 is highest in 4 years
New Delhi, Jan 20: Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the killing of 257 militants in 2018 – the highest in four years – by government forces, official figures show.
A total of 213 militants were killed in 2017, 150 in 2016 and 108 in 2015.
While 142 militants were eliminated in anti-militancy operations till August 31, the rest were killed in the remaining four months.
An official told IANS that August witnessed the killing of 25 militants – the highest in a single month in 2018.
Also, 105 militants were arrested and 11 surrendered in 2018. The number arrested in 2017 was 97, 79 in 2016 and 67 in 2015.
Government forces also secured surrendering a higher surrender of militants in 2018, which was almost six times more compared to 2017. Only two militants surrendered in 2017 against one in 2016. No militant surrendered in 2015.
The data further revealed that the number of violent incidents were also at a peak during 2018 – almost one-and-half times more than 279 incidents in 2017. A total of 223 violent incidents were registered in 2016 and 143 in 2015.
The security forces also seized 153 AK rifles in 2018 — a dip from 213 in 2017, data accessed by IANS revealed. The number was 178 in 2016 and 177 in 2015.
An official deployed in internal security in Jammu and Kashmir said AK-47 assault rifles were the preferred weapon of militants.
The official, who did not want to be named, said that over 300 militants, including foreigners, were still active in the Kashmir Valley, especially in south Kashmir, which is the epicentre of militancy for over three years now.
“And these militants have been continuously attempting to radicalize youngsters in the Valley to take up arms and to shed fear of getting killed,” said the official.
“Militants were known to monitor activities of youngsters on social media – Facebook and Twitter — who are inclined to militant activities and hardcore religious activities,” the official added.
Mehbooba among ‘strongest’ CMs of JK: Beg
Srinagar, Jan 20: Senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehboob Beg on Sunday hailed party president Mehbooba Mufti as one of the most consistent and strongest chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.
Beg, in a statement, said no matter if she is in the government or in the opposition she remained “steadfast”.
“Her politics and conviction finds basis in her ‘pro-people belief’, how she handled the Kathua rape case is a case in-point,” the statement said.
He said that the PDP president resisted the “sinister attempt to disturb and dislodge the tribal community and ensured no politics was played on this issue.”
Beg said: “Mehbooba’s stand was made crystal clear to the all-powerful central government as well, the Home Minister offered unconditional talks, the cases against protestors were withdrawn, the unilateral ceasefire was announced, how can we not appreciate her persisting with pro-people policies and made the BJP agree to matters that were politically inconvenient to them.”
“She took stands very well realizing that she did not have the numbers to dictate terms to the BJP, yet she persisted and since the BJP did not have the intentions to fulfill the terms agreed upon, they had to pull-out,” he said.
He claimed in the statement that the BJP had entered into this coalition by signing on dotted lines, the Agenda of Alliance was a carefully drafted ‘pro-people’ document.
Beg said “it appears that the BJP had no intention to fulfill what they had committed to do, one cannot do much about if somebody intends to cheat and deceive you.”
“We have had people waste historical opportunities. 1996 was a historic opportunity, the government of the day had overwhelming numbers, but did that government dare to take ‘pro-people’ stands? Let history be the judge on that,” he added.