Now that the hilly regions of Kashmir have witnessed snowfall, the winter is almost here. While for outsiders, the snowfall here is satiating aesthetic senses, for the local populace it adds to its miseries and troubles. Kashmir has all along witnessed the governments, that be, failing in keeping the electricity distribution system and the essential amenities delivery mechanisms intact. Last year’s early snowfall caught then administration napping. Several rural areas remained cut off for weeks without resumption of surface communication or electric power. In spite of the fact that the administration was having the weather forecasts, the snowfall in first week of the November made peoples’ lives hell. Road clearance was lousy, power supply and water supply were pathetic. The government’s, that be, have all along failed to deal with the weather vagaries and the subsequent troubles these bring to the people.
During winters, the power supply becomes the first casualty. The administrations, that be, have miserably failed to improve the network of transmission lines. A little bit of snow and electric poles break down. During November 2019 snowfall, nearly 5000 electric poles broke down in the Valley thus disrupting the electric supply and forcing people to grope in darkness amid freezing mercury. Power shortage results in the termination of water supply to various regions as the PHE department needs electricity to run its filtration plants. The government’s failure to clear snow from the roads impacts the movement of essential thus resulting into hoarding and sky-rocketing of prices. That is what people suffered in 2019 November.
Last year’s early snowfall has left Kashmiris with horrifying memories of complete administrative failure, devastation of horticulture and saffron produce. The snowfall didn’t only damage the standing apple crop, it broke the fruit trees thus inflicting longtime losses to those dealing in the fruit trade. 35% of the orchards were reportedly affected according to the preliminary estimates of Horticulture Kashmir while as 70% of Kashmir’s saffron produce was affected due to the snowfall. In the backdrop of this horrifying experience of last year, the people here are expecting the incumbent administration to be more effective and ‘battle-ready’ for the coming winter which has already started knocking at the door.
Winter 2020-21 would be the first winter for present Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha. Though his administration has started making claims about winter preparedness, it is to be seen whether these claims hold when nature decides to whiten the vale and dale of Kashmir. In the light of official communications issued from time to time regarding winter preparedness, it seems government’s priorities are quite clear this time and it has a proper plan in place. One would expect that the present Lt Governor’s administration would have learnt some lessons from the failures of previous regime in tackling with early snowfall. If it has learnt, one would expect it to be prepared enough to tackle the coming winter effectively.