By Nazim Humayoon
Kashmir valley witnessed the much awaited snowfall on the Friday, after a lengthy dry season. While the snow fall brought cheer to many, it was soon dissipated by the fallout. A mere half foot of snow in Srinagar city brought life in the capital city to a near halt. There were no cleared roads, no flights could land at what is billed as Srinagar International Airport, and the National Highway stood closed as well. This, however, is nothing new. This has been going on since decades. The same things trouble people again and again. The reasons emanate from the paralytic approach of the administration. The irony is that the chaos that ensued after the season’s first snowfall happened despite clear forecasts of what was coming. What we have is an administration that always boasts of preparedness and readiness, but which invariable fails to react and respond in timely ways. The ways in which the administration responds to things like inclement weather have actually become regressive and less efficient over the decades.
And that response is almost always slow and late.
This is, insofar, as the City centre is concerned. What about the only link that connects Kashmir to the world, the National Highway? The Highway stands closed since two days and the valley is cut off from rest of the world. Why not be prepared and keep the road always ready for vehicular movement. Does it snow only in Kashmir? Don’t we witness snowfall anywhere else in the world?
Let’s now consider another important domain that touches our lives: electricity supply and transmission. There was no electricity for 24 hours in most areas. What we hear from the administration is a convenient excuse, that it was as a precautionary move snapped!
However, the fact is that even after 48 hours of the snowfall, many areas of city will be enveloped in darkness. If this is the condition of the city, we all know districts face even worse when it comes to ‘’power’’. No walk and domain of life is left unaffected. The administration makes much about stocking of ration and essential services etc. A normal duty and responsibility of the administration is described by politicians of ruling parties as heroic! Stocking ration is not a heroic act but making it available to people is the duty of any administration, just like maintaining essential services is.
Statements of intent are merely rhetorical; working on the ground is what actually matters. The administration definitely does no ground work. Instead, it only conducts endless review meetings.
Acting merely on paper is not enough. The administration needs to adopt and follow a proactive approach rather than being reactive and ultimately ending in a state of chaos and confusion whenever contingencies occur. Half a foot of snow should not affect life to such an extent in the 21st century.
I will conclude with a somber and a sad note: I know my critique, admonitions and the suggestions will not have an effect on anyone. Moreover, the conditions obtaining in Kashmir will normalize in a couple of days. But the essential thrust of my message remains: the sleeping administrators of our state need to wake up and act. I am not trying to denounce anyone. All I am trying to do is inject and inculcate a sense of accountability into the administration towards people. Finally, I will exclaim with a sense of surprise: The Internet is working and I am able to mail this but as I write there is no sight of electricity, roads are clogged and I feel I am living in the Stone Age. While I am lucky to have backup at my home for such contingencies, I really hope that the government also has for people whose sufferings appear discountable to it.
—The writer is pursuing his Masters Degree at The Business School, University of Kashmir and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org