Snowed In !

After a record  extended  dry spell, Valley was swept up by a heavy snowstorm. True to the forecast by weather department, snow silently fell through Thursday and Friday, exhilerating people with a flawless whiteness. Snow was iconic in its fury, in line with the popular recollection of the ruthless old Kashmir winters. It was back to endlessly white vistas, frozen glassy streets and the deep, leaden skies with a teeth-chattering chill to boot. But what  made it as usual a story was the temporary power blackout in which it plunged the state. Much like the past snowfalls,  the response of the state government was no different. For almost, there was little snow clearance in evidence, even on some of the very important roads. Interior roads were left almost unattended making it difficult for people to resume their work.  According to the government, around 129 snow plows were deployed across the valley, out of which 20 were pressed into service  in Srinagar city.

However, the situation finally returned  to normal. Electricity restored sooner than the normal traffic.  The apparent damage to the powerlines  was not severe enough to cause an extended blackout. One expected though that unlike the last time, Power Development Department will be better prepared to deal with the  situation. But nothing of the sort happened.  The utility has been the target of public vitriol, both on street and online for its inability to immediately restore electricity every time the Valley is snowed in. There is a widespread belief that the company does not plan ahead for an expected  snowstorm in winter. It was, however, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s  supervision and his decision to stay back in Valley  in view of her father Mufti  Muhammad Sayeed’s first death anniversary that helped early restoration of essential services.

As is natural after every light or heavy snowfall, Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed to traffic leading to scarcity of many an essential commodity in the Valley – most of it, however, artificial in nature. It is shocking how a two to three day road closure is sufficient to create a humanitarian problem in the state. These are the issues that remain  unaddressed since decades. No party in power despite their protestations to the contrary in opposition has been able to make any significant difference. In opposition, PDP was the most vociferous critic of the National Conference about its handling of the winter woes. But now as the ruling party, PDP has been no different. In fact, in parts it has been worse. The road clearance this time was worse. For a while, it almost appeared that the government didn’t think it was necessary. Though the five month long uprising is over, the Government seems to be unable to get over the hangover. The paralysis reigns supreme. There is now hope that the government gets over the hangover and gets back on the track. If not political or ideological front, there is no excuse for the ruling PDP to be lax on development front. 

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