Srinagar: Accurate prediction by the state meteorological department (MeT) of snowfall helped several government departments in preparing for it. The Power Development Department, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, and the Mechanical Engineering Department all said that they were able to maintain or restore essential services thanks to the MeT office’s warning.
Farooq Ahmad, a snow-clearance employee of the Mechanical Engineering department, said that weather forecasts were tracked every hour. On a night of snowfall, he said, the department’s officers measure snow depth while mechanics check machines, before the operation begins at 3am. “Almost every important route, to hospitals, police stations, TV and radio stations, PHE offices, DC offices, etc, is cleared by 7am across the valley,” he said.
“If we sleep during the night before an operation, we won’t be able to do the job properly. To deliver our best performance, we keep ourselves awake,” he said. “People have misconceptions regarding the clearance of snow on narrow lanes and residential colonies. It is not our duty; our job is only to clear main roads and we require a road that is at least 13 feet wide,” he added.
Snow-clearance is one of the toughest jobs, he said. “The first challenge that people like us have to face is to leave emotions aside. If we are ill, or our family needs us, we are not allowed to go home, unless and until we get special permission. No doubt we are paid for our jobs, but we risk everything so that people don’t have to face any difficulties,” he said.
Another employee said that the most challenging part of the job is to repair snow-clearance machines when they break down. Mechanics rush to the spot where the machines break down, often at night. “Most of the time, the blades get damaged,” the employee said. “We cannot afford to leave machines where they are. We have to repair them and make them fully functional.”
The transport wing of Srinagar Municipal Corporation had deployed 3,000 sanitation workers for clearance of snow from lanes, bylanes, pavements, hospitals, electric water supply stations, religious places, government departments, and other vital places on priority.
Nazir Ahmad, one of these workers, said, “I had applied for leave but the department cancelled my leave when the snowfall was forecast. Our team successfully cleared snow of the roads on all important stretches through the city, with special focus on roads leading to hospitals, religious places and government offices. In the old city, we cleared snow of many lanes and bylanes in Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Nawa Kadal, Karan Nagar, Qamarwari, Bemina, Hawal, Soura and Hazratbal.”
Besides snow clearance through manual process, SMC’s chief transport officers told Kashmir Reader, 19 tippers had been utilised, along with 16 loaders, 5 JCBs, 2 skids steers (Roberts), and more than 60 hoppers for clearance of snow mechanically.
“Removal of snow from the main stretches started around 3am. Most of the city lanes have been cleared by the SMC staff and many machines are on the job to ensure no resident faces any inconvenience due to snow accumulation,” a transport officer said.
“In case there is any snow accumulation, locals can get in touch with our helpline for redress. We know there are many bylanes where snow still is, but by Monday morning we will clear them,” he added.
All health institutions in Srinagar were functioning normally with proper heating arrangements, thanks to the preparations made in wake of the snowfall forecast.
Besides field officers of the drainage department, the SMC has also deployed adequate number of de-watering pumps to clear choked drains and prevent water-logging.
There has also been no power breakdown as usual during snowfall this year. Electricity is being supplied to households as per schedule, a PDD officer said.
“No major damage has happened due to this snowfall,” said a field officer of PDD, Nazir Ahmad. “In some areas there has been minor damage, but we have fixed it in no time. We don’t want people to suffer again.”
Ahmad said that work comes before even family. “We too want to sit with our family in the snowfall but we have to leave our home to perform our duty,” he said.
Chief Engineer of Power Development Department, Hashmat Qazi, told Kashmir Reader that there has been no major damage due to snowfall and the department is providing electricity as per schedule.