Weathering Snow

ON Wednesday, Kashmir Valley was swept up by a fresh snowstorm. True to the forecast by the weather department, snow silently fell through Tuesday night, pleasantly surprising people with a flawless white morning. Unlike previous snowfall, when the Valley plunged into a prolonged electrical failure the time first flakes fell, this time the power supply was restored by Wednesday afternoon itself, in some places continuing through the better part of the day and into the evening.

Also, the apparent damage to the powerlines  at the time of the halt in snowing did not look severe enough to cause another extended blackout, except in some residential colonies where lamp posts uprooted and are yet to be installed.  Also unlike previously, Power Development Department was better prepared to deal with the  situation. The utility has in the past been the target of public vitriol, both on the street and online for its inability to immediately restore electricity after the Valley was snowed in.

There is a widespread belief that the PDD does not plan ahead for a snowstorm that is forecast days ahead. Considering the fact that the winter is very harsh in Kashmir, the governments here are supposed to be not only prepared for sudden weather challenges  but also once faced with this challenge address it in the shortest possible time. However, this time the situation has more or less been handled well.

Meanwhile, after fresh snowfall,  Valley reels under a deep dive in mercury, As is natural after every light or heavy snowfall, Srinagar-Jammu national highway is 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. Internally, however, the snow plows did a good job of road clearance facilitating an early resumption of traffic. A good performance this time round will be a boost for the image of the PDD.

But there are still some areas in Srinagar and in other parts of the Valley which remain without power supply and hence need urgent government attention.  In many places, powerlines have either been severely damaged or lamp posts have been uprooted. But the PDD is yet to reach these areas. Incidentally, we had a very benign Chillai Kalan this winter. But as often happens in the Valley, the winter can well extend into April. This calls for the government to be more proactive in the season.

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