Snowfall, not unexpected, even though predicted a week ago by the weatherman ‘Sonam Lotus’ has exposed administration once again as lifted the veil on administration’s preparedness to deal with the winter cries that otherwise boasts of being prepared to deal with any eventuality.
Just few centimeters of snow brought this part of the world to a complete still. Almost all essential services, be it roads or electricity supply, everything were badly hit. The summer capital Srinagar was plunged into darkness after a huge tree fell on a 33 KV transmission line on Saturday, and then took state administration almost 48 hours to restore cent percent supply in summer capital.
While far off villages are concerned, many of them are still reeling under darkness and the only answer locals are getting from the concerned department is that, “ they are on it”, but how long will it take to restore, departmental heads don’t have answer to the people queries.
In many parts of the city, melting snow has caused water logging, particularly in several low-lying areas of the city and Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) was seen slow enough in doing their work, which is dewatering these areas.
In Shopian district of South Kashmir, people complained of unsuccessful snow clearance, saying snow clearing machines were missing from vital roads, especially those leading to offices and schools.
The season's first snowfall also caused extensive damage to apple orchards in the upper reaches of south Kashmir districts of Shopian and Pulwama.
“20 to 30% of the apple production is still lying on plants. Fruit growers were waiting to supply it in this week due to upcoming festivals of lights, Diwali festival,” said Chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Association, Bashir Ahmad Basheer.
A large number of fruit-laden apple trees in Kashmir have either have been uprooted or their stems have broken due to heavy snowfall on Saturday, horticulture department officials said.
The worst affected orchards are in Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Bandipora and parts of Baramulla districts, the officials said.
“Some apple varieties which are plucked late in autumn were still on the trees. The exact losses can be determined only after a detailed survey but as per conservative estimates fruit worth several crores have been lost due to the snow,” added the officials.
Orchardists are demanding the government to set up teams for assessment of losses and demand compensation.
“There has been a lot of damage to apple orchards, especially in south Kashmir areas. The government should immediately order loss assessment and compensation,” said Fayaz Ahmad, an orchardist from Shopian.
"From north Kashmir to south, the apple orchards present a picture of broken apple trees with fruit either dropped on the ground or hanging on broken branches," said Mohammad Maqbool, another farmer from Kupwara.
The valley witnessed snowfall in November for the first time since 2009, throwing life out of gear. This was the fourth time since 2000 that Srinagar has recorded snowfall in November. The summer capital witnessed snow in 2004, 2008 and 2009, reveals the meteorological department here.