Like last year, Kashmir has witnessed snowfall during Chillai-Kalan, the 40-day harsh winter period. The normal life has been thrown out of gear as has been the case for years. The power supply has been erratic and snowfall has only augmented it. Closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway has become a normal, irrespective of whether rain or snowfall is little, moderate or heavy.
While the flights have been grounded concurrently last year, the air traffic has remained suspended since Sunday due to “low visibility” and snowfall. Last year, the winter was iconic in its fury. With night temperature already falling to record low and heavy snowfall from last four days, it seems that the winter is only going to get harsher inline with the popular recollection of the ruthless old Kashmir winters, characterized by white vistas, frozen glassy streets and teeth-chattering chill.
Kashmir is not the only place which receives snowfall. However, there are more disruptions in Valley unlike Europe which snowfall at times gets heavier and more frequent.
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. As the winter season progress, and there is snowfall, the Kashmir Valley witnesses the worst kind of isolation. People are unable to travel to or from Kashmir for the closure of the highway or suspension of the air traffic. There is a need to address the issues through real efforts rather than those restricted to paper only.
At the beginning of the winter season, top officers held several meetings to review the winter preparedness, supply, and stocking of essential commodities across the Kashmir and some districts of Jammu division including Kishtwar, Doda, Poonch, and Rajouri.
Among others, the Power Development Department was asked to undertake an extensive assessment of the functionality of existing transformers, transmission lines, buffer transformers, poles, electrical equipment, and repair workshops. There were directions to other departments for ensuring other facilities. However, the old stories have been repeated so far. The divisional administration in Kashmir has even ordered rationing of fuel as “precautionary measure”. Buses, trucks and commercial vehicles will get a maximum of 20 litres, while private vehicles (four wheelers) will get only 10 litres. Three wheelers will get five litres of fuel while two wheelers will get only three litres.
There is a cap on the LPG cylinder and a consumer shall be issued a cylinder only after 21-days against proper acknowledgement and record. It is hoped that people will not have to put up to indefinitely suspended services like the past.