Hi folks wishing my sisters from different parts of the globe, a prosperous New Year 2012. May this year fill our lives with happiness and tranquillity.
I just want to share with you some of the bitter experiences that we are encountering in Kashmir at the moment in wake of bone-chilling winter. I felt so bad as I couldn’t participate in this week’s conference call due to the rampant power cuts and almost no connectivity. But, fortunately this time, I could make it to pen down some feelings and this time connectivity, although slow too supported me and I had saved some charge in my laptop.
Kashmir has been witnessing the harshest part of winter, locally called Chillai-Kalan, a 40-day period which began in late December and lasts throughout January.
The current winter in Kashmir has broken the 16-year old record with day temperature stayed below the freezing point for past so many days. Water supply has been badly affected as the chilling weather froze the supply pipes to houses and icicles hanging on rooftops and in taps. People suffering from frostbites and other respiratory problems.
The chilling weather has frozen the supply pipes to houses. People at several places were seen burning wood to unfreeze the taps. The residents are making extra efforts to keep themselves warm from the extreme weather using more woollens and burning small fires by roadsides to beat the harsh cold.
According to the officials of the meteorological department, the maximum temperature has fallen below the freezing point in Srinagar and adjoining areas for the first time since 1995 when it plunged to minus 2.1 degrees Celsius. The world’s famous Dal Lake was frozen and even some Shikaras (boats) were stuck in the frost, thus hindering the movement of the inhabitants living near it.
Normal life was thrown out of gear across Kashmir due to snowfall and people had to bear the brunt of extended power shutdown and snags in telecommunication services.There were some places where you don’t experience such a heavy snowfall like Ramban which received two to three feet of snow.
There is shortage of essentials which had hit the valley in wake of heavy snowfall and subsequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway which is the only road link connecting Kashmir with rest of the world. There is acute shortage of essential commodities, particularly cooking gas and kerosene, notwithstanding government claims that there is enough stock of essentials available in the market.
In just three days two women died on way to hospital as they couldn’t reach on time to the hospital due to the blockage of road due to snow as the road was not cleared of snow.
Jana, daughter of Abdul Gani Sheikh, 25, of Chankittar, Tral, died last night on way to hospital in south Kashmir area last evening as her family members could not shift her to the hospital on time due to snow clad roads.
She complained of severe abdominal pain and we decided to take her to Sub-District Hospital, Tral, which is only 6 Kms from our village. But as the road was not cleared of snow, the family had no choice but to carry her on our back and walk by foot. Before they could reach the hospital she died.
On January 10, a pregnant woman of Naristan, Tral Khati Begum died as she could not be shifted to Sub District Hospital, Tral as snow was yet to be cleared from roads.
Both ladies had died due of the negligence of the government departments particularly Roads and Buildings Department as they had failed to remove snow from the roads.
Meanwhile, the power protests in the valley turned violent where a 21-year-old student was killed and two others injured when paramilitary Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) personnel opened fire on protesters at Boniyar in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district last week when people were staging a dharna against the frequent power cuts in the valley.
Another to eyewitness who were present at the time of incident, the deceased was not part of the protest. He was not an agitator. He was standing nearby. He was a 12th class student and was having books with him. He was going for tuitions.
Meanwhile, a diver was killed and two other employees including an engineer were injured today when their snow clearance vehicle met with an accident and turned turtle in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. A snow clearance machine while on duty at Damhal Haji Pora in South Kashmir met with an accident at Kutamarg. A junior engineer, driver and conductor of the machine were injured.
So the million dollar question is what should be done to stop such incidents in the near future and relive people from the lackadaisical approach of the authorities.
To ease the problems of Kashmiris, government should have conducted a mock drill in advance so that valley could have witnessed some kind of respite in which Kashmir is reeling under severe cold.
What irks the people is why is electricity badly hampered along with lack of other essentialities while as in other places of the world where snowfall is more than five feet, the scene is totally different where they gear up for things in advance.
Major interruptions which happen in winter due to snowfall along with the topography makes it difficult to restore the transmission lines, people are wishing if electricity could be wireless?
The solution at these pressing times is not alone with department but there is a dire need to remove the rampant corruption, lack of technology and work culture. If we work on these things lines, then the time is not far where instead of lamenting why winter comes we will enjoy the nature’s unique gift to us without losing any precious life.
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