THE SNOW SHOCK

  • Javaid Malik
  • Publish Date: Nov 11 2018 8:26PM
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  • Updated Date: Nov 12 2018 2:52AM
THE SNOW SHOCKPhoto:Kashmir Ink

The recent snowfall in Kashmir caught the administration napping. The entire system collapsed within a few hours leaving people to grapple with traffic jams and without electricity for more than a day. It was after nine years that Srinagar city received snowfall in the month of November. Even the meteorology department got it wrong as it couldn’t predict that plains in the valley would receive snowfall.

“The science of weather forecasting falls to public scrutiny every single day. When the forecast is correct people rarely comment, but we are often quick to complain when the forecast is wrong,” said Director Meteorology Sonam Lotus. Many people criticized Lotus for not being able to predict the snowfall in advance but they missed a point. Had Lotus predicted that Kashmir would receive snowfall on November 3 would it have made any difference? In fact snowfall once again exposed the loopholes in the system. Srinagar city just received 2 to 3 inches of snow and within a few hours power lines were snapped and low lying areas in city got water logged.  This would have happened even if the weatherman would have predicted that Kashmir would receive the snowfall on a particular day.

Early snowfall this year is an indication that the winter could be tough and people should be ready to face any eventuality. “People need to understand that they cannot depend upon the administration and have to be self reliant to tackle the weather vagaries,” said an analyst. It may be recalled that when Kashmir witnessed worst floods of the century in 2014, the administrative inertia was exposed to the hilt. After the 2014 floods the Jammu and Kashmir government announced slew of measures to tackle the natural disasters and the calamities but as the sun started shinning all the plans and initiatives were forgotten and “life returned to normal.”

November 3 snowfall provided a chance to the political parties to corner the Governor’s administration over “entire official machinery being caught napping.” “These politicians who issued big press statements forgot that they too have ruled the state in the past and such situations did arise when they were in power,” said a Kashmir watcher.

He said, “Politicians should sit back and introspect. Had they put in extra efforts to make Kashmir a better place to live the inclement weather would not have disrupted the normal life. Politicians could have done a lot as they are aware about the hardships which people face during winters.”

An expert said that people who are in knowhow of the situation have been crying hoarse that drainage system of the Srinagar city has “outlived its utility” and it needs to be revamped but till date no one has taken the suggestions of the experts seriously. “People at the helm need to give up the attitude of ‘chalta hai’ to save the Srinagar city from witnessing yet another catastrophe like 2014 floods,” the expert added.

He said that power transmission lines in Srinagar city pose threat to the lives of people as these too are old and outdated. “If the snow returns there is every possibility of people facing more difficulties as lot needs to be done to turn Srinagar city into a better place to live,” the expert said.     

The recent snowfall brought Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration face to face with yet another challenge which the administration can face at any point of time. “November 3 snowfall made it clear that fighting militancy is not the only task for the government in the Valley. Administration has to remain on toes to resolve any sort of crisis which Kashmir can witness during the winter months,” said a politician. He said that the Governor’s administration should seek financial assistance from Centre to set the “defunct system” right. “At present New Delhi is ruling Jammu and Kashmir directly and there is no political interference. If it really wants to do something for Kashmir then it can do without any hassles. People from Centre are running the state and by now they are well aware about the problems which J&K, especially Kashmir is facing,” the politician added. Referring to Governor Malik’s recent statement that “no development” has taken place in Kashmir during all these years, the politician said, “It’s unfair to blame politicians for every wrong in Kashmir. Whosoever has ruled Jammu and Kashmir during all these years has tried to address the problems faced by the people. Some issues were resolved and a few remained unaddressed.” He said, “At present there is no political dispensation at place and the wrongs which were committed could be undone. To begin with, the Governor’s administration should set the power distribution system right. Major power projects which provide electricity to the northern states are based in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite J&K providing power to entire north India, J&K faces worst power crisis. What an irony!”

Another politician said, “New Delhi should stop castigating Kashmiri leaders and needs to put its act together and work out a contingency plan to address the weather vagaries which Kashmir can face in coming months. People at the helm should stop playing politics over the problems being faced by the people.” An official of the Traffic police department said that if the weather remains inclement in coming months it would become difficult for the authorities to keep the 270-km Srinagar-Jammu highway open for traffic. “The ongoing expansion work of the highway has made it weak and a slight rainfall or snowfall triggers landslides, which leads to the frequent closure of the highway,” he said. The official said that people should stock enough essential commodities to save themselves from getting caught in the awkward situations. “Presently only one way traffic is allowed on the highway. If the same situation continues it would become very difficult for us to facilitate the movement of trucks carrying essentials to the Valley,” the official added. 

The ground reports suggest that if weather gods turn angry then people of Kashmir can face lot of hardships in coming months as winter could be harsh and challenging.