Kashmir—With and without snow

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 Snow is the only charm that makes one to crave for winter. For its aesthetic and visual attraction it drives people out on streets to receive the swirling snowflakes. Visitors from no-snow regions rush in to enjoy the snowfall. But this winter mostly ran dry causing serious concern among the valley residents. Snow is not only a source of charm but agriculture and horticulture—the mainstay of our economy—largely dependent on it. So when it started snowing early yesterday morning, it was a real treat for the people. Valley residents rushed out to the lawns, streets and by-streets to welcome and celebrate snowfall. But with this joy came the most agonizing moments as well. It is not going overboard to say that all our problems begin with snowfall in winter. Right from power, road connectivity and drinking water to all other daily amenities like essential commodities disappear with the first fall of the snowflake. The scene gets repeated ever year. Normal life in Kashmir, as usual, has been out of gear due to the latest snowfall on Monday in the plains and higher reaches of the valley. This by all standards is the season’s heaviest snowfall that virtually iced around the entire life across the valley. The first casualty became the electricity. Entire valley plunged into darkness as power supply was withdrawn by the concerned department. The power supply remains shut to most parts of the valley indefinitely. Though the power situation has never been satisfactory in the valley this winter but the snowfall provided yet another alibi to the people in charge of the electricity to stop power supply. The entire valley including capital city of Srinagar went into power blockade leaving people to fend for themselves. Reports from rural Kashmir are more disturbing. The rural parts of Kashmir had been reeling under darkness even before the snowfall. As yet, there is no effort on the part of the government to restore the power supply there. No person from the concerned department has been spotted in the area that could suggest any effort from the government. Rural areas in north, south and central suggest the same story. The life in rural parts is more painful in many other ways also. In most parts roads connecting villages and tehsils are still covered under snow. Snow has not been cleared in Srinagar city as well. Barring major roads connecting city with district headquarters, most of the streets and roads remain under snow causing hurdles to residents to come out of their homes. Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which has an army of people to meet such eventualities, appears to be under deep slumber. Roads on which snow has been cleared are logged with water. The entire city has turned into a water pool. Lal Chowk, Regal Chowk, Harri Singh High Street, Exhibition Crossing which are face of the capital city present the view of a lake with knee-deep water logged around. No employee or official of SMC or any other government organ was seen anywhere on spot. The Ministers and senior officials have chosen to issue statements from their cozy and centrally-heated offices of Jammu. Most people in Srinagar, however, are running for essential commodities and eatables. With the closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway, there is acute shortage of essential commodities. Most of the vegetable markets are shut, and few vendors could be seen in the streets. People flayed government claims of stock-piling of essential commodities. Complaints are galore that whatever little of vegetables available in market are rotten, which are being sold at arbitrary prices. There is no control over prices. It is sellers’ whim that fixes the prices. The shortage of cooking gas and kerosene oil has added upon the woes, and so has the lack of electricity. Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti needs to pull up the divisional administration for its lapses and failures in the valley.

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