The weatherman has issued an advisory for moderate to heavy snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir in days ahead till upcoming Sunday with main activities on January 5 and 8. As per the MeT office two successive western Disturbances—extra-tropical and non-monsoon precipitation patterns driven by the westerly winds— are hitting the J&K and Ladakh.
The People of Jammu and Kashmir hope that the meteorological department’s prediction comes good given the importance of the snowfall in early winters. It is important for rabi crop as it sustains the Himalayan snow cover, which ensures water for irrigation during the summer months when the glaciers melt.
More snowfall, the better it is for the plant growth. Plants in the alpine meadows including medicinal plants grow better and their biomass production is higher. At the same time, people are also wary of disruptions that the snowfall normally brings about and long term impact it leaves, more so due to tools employed in the past by the administration for clearance from the roads.
Severe winter conditions, as witnessed last season, cause breaking up and shattering of the road surface due to seepage and frost action. Means of clearance were pathetic also and contributed more than the weather vagaries.
How well these roads can be protected from the weather vagaries is for the concerned department engineers and the government to work out.
The government last year constituted a committee to suggest measures and SoPs for preventing damage to the road due to snow clearance.
It was perhaps for the first time that some thought was given to address the problems regarding road maintenance.
The panel was tasked to recommend optimal maintenance of roads during snow clearance operations and obviating the need for their subsequent restoration, according to a government order issued last year. Whether there is any headway would be known once it snows and how the concerned would go about clearance of the roads.
Meanwhile, the departments should find answers as to why every year there is a need to blacktop the roads. Necessary steps need to be taken in advance to save the surface from damaging during snow clearance.
While insufficient drainage allows rainwater and snow-melt to seep into the road surface, the concerned need to look into the issue and shall address it because it would solve two problems: one that the roads would be saved and second water logging during rains would be prevented.