SRINAGAR: This year again life in most parts of Kashmir Valley has been thrown off gear with a few inches of snowfall. All modes of transport lie suspended, power supply cut, and drinking water in short supply.
The first news to reach people who woke up to see snow all around was suspension of traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. A Traffic Control Room official said the highway was closed for traffic movement due to heavy snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel. If the situation continues for the next few days, the Valley will begin to face shortage of essentials, while prices of many commodities will shoot up.
Air traffic, too, was suspended, leaving many passengers in the lurch. An official of Srinagar airport told Kashmir Reader that low visibility was the reason, not the snowfall. The upgrading of the visibility infrastructure of the airport could have improved things, but the proposal is gathering dust with the Government of India, the official added. Due to this lack of infrastructure, many tourism players are facing economic losses because of cancelation of flights to and from Srinagar.
“Air traffic will be allowed only subject to visibility,” the airport official added.
Inside homes, there was more chill to add the winter woes of frequent power cuts. An official from the Power Development Department told Kashmir Reader that the cuts were due to excessive use of power beyond the carrying capacity, and in some places, it was due to damage in infrastructure caused by snowfall.
“We have been on it, and are trying to do the best of our abilities,” the official said.
This year, drinking water supply has been affected, too. An official from the Irrigation department said that it was due to snowfall. “It will be fixed soon,” he said.
“Imagine sitting inside home in snowfall without water, power. We never have lived without these problems. I don’t understand why it happens when there is snowfall,” Ali Muhammad, a 90-year-old resident of Rainawari said. “Throughout my life this problem has remained. I don’t know when will they be solved.”
The government has been claiming to have been ready for any eventuality caused by snowfall. But when the snow arrived, the claims fell short. Now as more snowfall is forecast till Tuesday, it remains to be seen how the administration deals with it.
This is the first major snowfall most parts of the Valley have received since the beginning of Chillai-Kalan — the 40-day harshest winter period when cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably, leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake, as well as water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.