The winter this year in Kashmir has been the harshest in thirty years. The temperatures have fallen far below zero, putting people in the Valley to real hardships. While the year 1991 saw mercury dropping to minus 8 degrees Celsius or more on eight occasions, this year the temperatures plummeted to around such low or hovered around the mark in equal proportions. After many years people have seen long icicles hanging off the eaves. Taps, water bodies including the world-famous Dal Lake have frozen. Incidents such as the bursting of water tanks and pipes have been reported in many homes.
In this biting cold, people faced trouble in moving out, affecting the routine work. In fact, a doctors’ body advised caution, as it thought the severe cold can result in grave problems to heath including even death in some cases. The freezing temperature has also slowed down the traffic movement.
Several villages in south, central and north Kashmir are still fully or partially cut off from district headquarters due to heavy snowfall.
The administration has not been found as reactive as the severity of the nature of the winter demanded. In fact, this winter the administration seems more distant than ever and the people have more or less been left to fend for themselves. The lanes and by-lanes remained snow-clogged for days together after the moderate to heavy snowfall last month.
For the administration, it is important to undertake a public campaign aimed at sensitising the people about issues faced on various fronts. Timely intervention by the concerned departments can bring a change in the general pattern of life during the winters and prepare people beforehand. The health department was required to live up to the expectations of the situation, upgrade capabilities of rescuing ailing people in the deep chill. People carrying patients on their shoulders in this day and age should not happen. A state of preparedness always helps in such a situation.
Now that the 40-day long period of harsh winter cold known locally known as the ‘Chillai Kalan’ has ended, there’s hope that the situation will improve going forward. Apart from hardships, there are benefits of a snow-bound winter. Here’s hoping for better days ahead.
Also, people and government should not get swayed by some warmness and always prepare in advance to face the challenged and harsh winters.