Govt needs to wake up

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A few inches of snow and entire State, particularly Kashmir and Chenab Valley, were turned topsy-turvy. The entire power supply collapsed as if the state was hit by a cyclone. Once again the frailty of state’s infrastructure was exposed. While one may agree that the snowfall was untimely but it was not unexpected as the weatherman had already issued the advisory. Either there was lack of communication between MeT Deptt and the state administration or the administration was somewhere in hibernation. The complete power blockade impacted the water supply badly and the entire populace had to suffer. While the electric supply has been restored in most parts of Srinagar, several rural areas are still groping in darkness.

This happens every winter, though this time round it was a bit earlier. Come winters, most of the transmission lines and towers come down crumbling.  As the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) has rightly pointed out that the situation needs to be tackled on long term basis and not just a crisis management. Laying down of underground cables for power transmission is the need of the hour. If the government decides to do so, and it should without wasting any further time, this would save crore in T&D losses and would ensure hassle-free power supply in the winter months. The Power Development Department instead chose to waste thousands of crores in laying of covered cables on transmission poles. The results are out and its time that some accountability was sought, KCC&I has pointed out.

It is high time for the state government to make a long term programme for laying down of underground cables for power transmission. A few years back, the then government had decided to begin the process of laying underground transmission lines from Gulmarg bowl. However, till date no one knows what happened to the process.

Secondly, the sudden and untimely snowfall has given a blow to the horticulture industry. As several varieties of apple were yet to be picked from trees, weighed by the snow, thousands of apple trees came crumbling down, destroying both the crop as well as the orchards. KCC&I has put the estimate of losses faced by apple growers to the tune of Rs. 500 Crore. That includes the apple that are rotting in trucks on Srinagar Jammu highway and due to closure of this highway couldn’t reach the desired markets.

Horticulture is one of the industries which continues pumping some oxygen into body economy of Kashmir and therefore the state government should miss no time and come to the rescue of apple growers. Special teams should be tasked with the job of assessing the loses and go for physical verification within specific time frame. Once the government gets complete data of the losses, it should come up with a special package for these growers. While charting out such a package, the authorities need to remain mindful that the growers have not only lost the crop, their orchards too have suffered huge losses and that will undoubtedly impact the crop production next year. The government needs to come to the rescue of apple growers forthwith and ensure that the industry is put back on the tracks.

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