The mercury has started to fall during the morning and evening times in Kashmir Valley. It is an indication that winters are approaching fast. Last year the Valley experienced, after a long time, a tough winter associated with successive heavy snowfalls which threw life out of gear given the fact that there had been erratic electricity, long days of the blockade of the Jammu-Srinagar highway while flights were grounded recurrently. All in all the winter was iconic in its fury. The ensuing season does not inspire any confidence of being comparatively better given the fact that people would have covid-19 challenge to face apart from what they are normally up against. There are fears that many people may not effort wherewithal to face it as they would have in the past. The economic condition of most people has reduced, more so in the case of those depending on tourists. Like last year when despite heavy snowfall, tourists gave a miss to the Valley due to then unfolding fallout of the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution by the centre.
Like past, it is hoped that the people will take hardship due to the winter in their stride. However, the present government needs to adapt to challenges like ensuring electricity and other essential services. This winter many people may need electricity for survival let alone confronting the challenges in its absence. The covid-19 pandemic in all practical purposes has not been overcome in absence of an affordable vaccine and many people may need oxygen support which would be difficult to manage in absence of the electricity.
Once the winter season sets in, and there is snowfall, Valley witnesses the worst kind of isolation, people are unable to travel to or from Kashmir for the closure of the highway. It needs to be addressed beforehand.
From last week or so, top officers have held several meetings to review the winter preparedness, supply, and stocking of essential commodities across the Kashmir and snowbound districts of Jammu division including Kishtwar, Doda, Poonch, and Rajouri.
Among others, the Power Development Department has been asked to undertake an extensive assessment of the functionality of existing transformers, transmission lines, buffer transformers, poles, electrical equipment, and repair workshops. There are directions to other departments for ensuring other facilities. It is hoped that people will not have to put up to indefinitely suspended services like the past.