Srinagar: With no reasonable snowfall this winter, Kashmirs economy will be badly affected, particularly the horticulture and agriculture sectors of the state.
The valley witnessed prolonged dry spell during the core winter period locally known as Chilai-Kalaan which passed without apt snowfall or rain. The most chances of snowfall in Kashmir are usually during ChilaiKalaan which begins from December 21 and ends on January 31. But the precipitation remained extremely low during this period. This is going to prove very costly from an economic point of view.
The environmental experts of the valley are warning that continued dry spell would lead to an adverse impact on the environment and agricultural activities. According to Dr.Shafeeq Hakim, Assistant Professor at SKUAST, the impact of less snow is adversely going to affect the growth of crops and fruit settings. The changing pattern will lead to various diseases in crops like Fungiscare which is a disease that stunts plant growth. This Fungiscare remains active during dry season. As there has been no snow during this winter period, the chance of plants getting infected with Fungiscare is nearly 80 percent. This will hamper the growth of plants as well as fruits which in turn will decline the crop and fruit production.
Though the continuous dry spell is still persisting, the farmer community is praying for rains to nourish their fields with the mercy of God. There has been not much snow this season; we are crossing our fingers for snowfall or rains atleast. Our fields are dead; the plants have already been eaten by deadly pests and insects. If there is adequate rain, it will be a good omen for agricultural activities. Otherwise, the production will drastically decrease this season, said GhulamQadir Dar of Shopian.
HOD Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir, Dr. Shakil Ahmad Romshoo said, Timely snowfall or rainfall is a pre-requisite for agricultural activities. During summers, water scarcity is on the cards and more importantly, water supply for irrigation purposes is also going to be affected. We have already lost 20% of our glaciers and this will worsen the blow.
The prolonged dry spell will not only affect horticulture and agriculture sectors but other sectors as well such as tourism and health.
President of Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK), Rauf Tramboo said, Most of the tourists have postponed their visit to Kashmir as there was no snowfall during this season. Sports activities which are held in Gulmarg and Pahalgam every winter season have been cancelled. Dry season has not only affected arrival of sports lovers but also hampered tourism to a great extent. Less snowfall this season proved to be a spoilsport and this sector incurred loss worth crores of rupees.
In addition to this, people are complaining of various respiratory diseases and chest infections. According to Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah, HoD at Chest Diseases Hospital, We have been witnessing a surge in the number of patients suffering from various respiratory diseases such as common cold, asthma, pneumonia and cough. These are increasing day by day as there is a continuous dry spell in Kashmir.
If the situation persists, it will lead to an ecological and economic disaster. Agriculture and tourism industries are the backbone of Kashmir. Both of these industries are extremely sensitive to climate variations. It is the responsibility of both the government and the citizens to tackle this situation head on. Otherwise, tales of snowfall in Kashmir will be relegated to fairytales.