Mid-march snowfall worries fruit-growers in Doda, throws life out of gear
Bhaderwah: Fresh snowfall on Monday in the upper reaches of Doda district has left farmers a worried lot due to fear of damage to fruit crops as the trees are currently in bloom.
According to officials, snowfall ranging between two inches to one foot was recorded in different high-altitude areas, including Kota Top, Jatani, Kansar, Thanhala, Baach Dhar, Shankhoja, Chenera, Kaljugasar and Sivili.
Amid the continuous snowfall, the district administration has issued an advisory asking people not to venture near avalanche-prone areas and has also suspended vehicular traffic on Bhaderwah-Basohli-Pathankot and Bhaderwah-Chamba interstate roads.
Farmers, especially fruit growers, claimed that some areas received snowfall on March 20 after a long gap, catching them unprepared as they have already started working in their orchards after prolonged winters.
“We have already started ploughing our maize fields and were expecting to have a good crop of apricot, almond, peach and walnut as these trees were in the bloom,” Saif Din Dhakkar, a farmer of village Kota Top said.
He said the unseasonal snowfall and the sudden dip in temperature have done a lot of damage to the fruit-bearing trees.
Additional Superintendent of Police, Bhaderwah, Kameshwar Puri said most of the higher reaches in Bhadarwah and Bhallesa are witnessing fresh snowfall since morning.
“We have issued an advisory to the people residing in hilly slopes to avoid venturing outside especially near avalanche-prone areas till weather conditions improve,” he said.
He said the traffic on the interstate highways was suspended as a precautionary measure after the snowfall rendered a 30-km stretch from Thanala to Khundi Maral on Bhaderwah-Chamba road and 25-KM stretch from Thantera to Chattar Galla pass on Bhaderwah-Basohli road slippery.
“It is still snowing and no vehicles will be allowed to move beyond Thanalla on Bhaderwah-Chamba road and Thanthera on Bhadarwah-Basohli-Pathankot road,” Puri said.
Students who had started going to school after extended winter vacations with some of them appearing in class 10 and 12 annual examinations next month are finding it difficult to cope with the winter-like conditions.
“We have just started attending our classes after a long break. We fall in a hard zone and our exams are commencing from the first week of April but after the snowfall, we are not able to reach our school at this crucial juncture,” said Mohammad Arif (16), a class 10 student of village Kharangal- Bhalessa.