A Long, Cold Winter

THIS winter Kashmir has been in the grip of a severe cold wave. This is the harshest winter in Kashmir in thirty years. The night temperature in Srinagar has progressively plummeted to upwards of minus 8 degree Celsius and each new night beats the previous night’s record. In popular memory, the bone chilling cold and the recent heavy snowfall has come as a throwback to the storied old winters with their feared Chillai Kalans. It is after many years that one can witness the long icicles hanging off the eaves. Most taps, water bodies, including the Dal Lake have frozen. People are experiencing the severe hardships with water pipes freezing in houses and in many cases bursting. There are also instances of the bursting of water tanks in many homes. Besides, due to lack of clearance of snow, many villages in south, central and north Kashmir remain cut off from district headquarters. The freezing temperature has also slowed down the traffic movement.

But the exceptionally severe nature of the winter has hardly made the government more sensitive towards the needs of the people. In fact, this winter the administration seems more distant than ever. The people have more or less been left to fend for themselves.

Compared to past winters, nothing has changed for the better on the ground. In fact, in some aspects, the situation is only worse off. The power supply has reduced to a trickle in parts of the Valley, with long unscheduled power cuts the order of the day – albeit, in some urban areas including the situation on power front has been relatively better. Both metered as well as unmetered areas have already been slapped with a drastic load-shedding schedule. The only parallel state of affairs that comes to mind is the mid- nineties when power during a brief period of the winter was supplied for one hour a day. And ironically, this is happening at a time when the state is ruled by the centre,

Now that the 40-day long period of harsh winter cold known locally as the ‘Chillai Kalan’ has ended, there’s hope that the situation will improve going forward. According to Meteorological Department, the temperature will gradually improve. One benefit of a snow-bound winter has been that there is a marginal rise in the arrival of tourists. But the economy already reeling from the successive lockdown of the past one and a half year has been dealt a fresh blow. Here’s hoping that with improvement in temperature and peace holding, the businesses will also do well.

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