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Sunny, Snowless Chillai-Kalan!

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By: Rayees Ahmad Kumar

A month of Chillai-Kalan (40 day long harsh cold period) has gone by and just ten days remain. Perhaps after decades we are witnessing the warm sunny days and snow-less Chillai-Kalan in valley annoying the people associated with tourism and agricultural sector greatly. Previously, this period would wrap the entire landscape with thick blanket of white snow and lofty snow-clad mountains would attract and lure a big chunk of foreign skiers and tourists.

Long conical icicles under roofs of houses and dead branches of plants would further enhance the charm and beauty of this Himalayan region. Foggy airs and frosty mornings would almost imprison our children and weak and enfeebled people in their homes. Electricity would remain disrupted for days together and roads from villages to district headquarters too would be blocked in due to heavy snowfalls

In these tough times our children would often take pleasure in minimising the friction of snowy slopes to make it slippery, wearing polythene sheets and then sliding on snow from afternoon to dusk time. They would also make dense spherical hard snow balls and through them at one another and in the bed time their grandparents, especially grandmothers, would tell them some folktales and traditional stories. In such testing times vallities would completely rely on sun-dried vegetables with national highway remaining mostly closed for days together causing shortage and scarcity of essential commodities. Major and heavy snowfall would invite skiers and snowboarders from across the globe here thus strengthening our economy and bringing a smile on the faces hundreds of those associated with this trade.

Young and energetic non-local visitors used to spend their time in our hill stations, enjoying their time amidst snow clad mountains besides enjoying the hospitality of the locals here.

However, Kashmir known for its enchanting winter vistas, is currently experiencing an unusual weather phenomenon- a snow-less Chillai-Kalan. It has cast a dark shadow over nearly all sectors here including tourism, agriculture, horticulture etc as the lack of snow means less availability of water in the summers. Absence of snow coupled with erratic weather conditions poses a significant threat to the thriving fruit industry.

Though the temperature has dipped to a record low at several places this winter, the absence of snowy scenes are hurting us most and we anxiously crave for the season’s first snowfall. Even our higher reaches has not received enough snow this season adding to the concerns of one and all.

Environmentalists fear that this might be a very bad sign for the overall productivity in Kashmir and not only the farming and horticulture community is at loss but there will be an imminent shortage of drinking water too. Our perennial rivers and streams are fed through the slow melting glaciers located on high altitudes.

Since Chillai-Kalan, this year, has been unkind to us there are least chances of a good agricultural and horticulture season as both the sectors are fully dependent on blessings of snow and rain. Climatologists attribute abnormal weather behaviour to climate change and other human made phenomenon like global warming and varied pollutions.

Winter tourism has already been at all-time low this year in view of long dry weather and currently there are bleak chances of a moderate or heavy snowfall. In such conditions the catastrophic impacts are more likely to show its signs very soon. In view of these gloomy weather conditions, special prayers are being organised in open grounds with the intent to please Almighty and repent for the sins. It has also caused several people to go for centuries old traditional legacy of preparing a special feast called ‘Sas-Ras’ to get rid of the long dry weather spell

Our mountains and other hilly regions are snowless and our rivers are experiencing a record low water level well springs and tube wells are drying up. In such conditions one can’t expect an easy living in the coming season if the dry spell continues to haunt us. Shikara and houseboats of Srinagar which earlier would be floating on rich and abundant waters are presently seen static on hard and dry chapped muddy surfaces.

Elderly, youth and children are equally bothered about the prevailing unusual weather conditions of the valley and anxiously crave for the first glimpse of snowflake. Rise in day temperatures and sunny weather conditions though pleasing to us presently, are likely to prove disastrous in the coming season. The scarcity of water would reduce the agricultural produce and shortage of drinking water is likely to add people’s woes.

It is believed that if the dry spell doesn’t end very soon, health related problems would rise too. So we the vallities are praying for an urgent heavy snowfall which can infuse new life to the dead plants and soil and would likely bring a smile on the faces of inhabitants who wholly and solely depend on rain and snow.

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