Srinagar: Amid a delayed administrative response, normal life in Kashmir remained disrupted for a second consecutive day with the region continuing to witness heavy snowfall here on Wednesday.
The snowfall is part of a fresh wet spell due to a western disturbance – as per the local Meteorological Department – which is likely to get weaker from this afternoon. Parts of the valley, including areas like Srinagar, received record snowfall unseen here over the last ten years. Weather officials claimed that the rain or snow received by the summer capital is almost one-third of the all-time high recorded in 1930.
The snowfall has snapped all aerial and road connectivity to and from the Kashmir Valley with all inbound and outbound flights cancelled for the third day. The near-300 km long Srinagar-Jammu highway and the Mughal route have also been closed to all vehicular movement. Snowfall has caused a major inconvenience to the people in the valley as the majority of shops and businesses as well as transport were disrupted. A majority of routes, including arterial roads, remained blocked as snow accumulated and resulted in abnormally slippery conditions.
Srinagar has witnessed over 14 inches of snow since Monday and parts of south Kashmir like Shopian and Kulgam have witnessed several feet of snow in the past two days. While road connectivity remained an issue, most areas in both south and north Kashmir also witnessed disruption in electricity and water supply for a third day in a row.
Commuters in Srinagar – including those on the main hospital roads – were stuck at several places due to the roads having been uncleared since Tuesday. Due to inaccessibility, patients from outside Srinagar and far-off rural areas had to face challenges in reaching healthcare centers. A woman from south Kashmir's Shopian gave birth to a child on a stretcher while being carried to a hospital on Tuesday.
At least two houses reportedly collapsed in Budgam’s Khag area. However, no loss of life was reported and the families were rescued with local assistance, a local news agency reported. Another local news outlet reported that three residential houses were damaged due to snow in the Uri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Image Credit: Kamran Yousuf
The Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir region, Pandorang K. Pole, has directed the rationing of fuel, LPG and other essentials as a “precautionary measure” in the wake of the fresh snowfall. He however, asked people not to “panic”.
In view of the situation, the JK Board of School Education (BOSE), the University of Kashmir and the Cluster University in Srinagar have postponed all exams scheduled on Wednesday.
The Srinagar district administration, however, claimed that it had been working to clear the snow and restore services.
“This is to assure our residents that our entire administration is on its toes in efforts to clear the snow and restore the affected services. With unrelenting snowfall this has been an unprecedented situation. Please continue to cooperate with us — we appreciate it. Thanks,” its official twitter handle said.
Political parties like the Congress, National Conference (NC) and Apni Party urged the administration to expedite its response to the problems which had surfaced in wake of the heavy snowfall across Kashmir. A joint statement of NCs district presidents and constituency in-charges impressed upon the administration to clear all the major arterial roads and inter-district roads on a priority basis.
In a statement, the Apni Party led by businessman-turned politician Altaf Bukhari said the administration had been “caught napping” in the wake of fresh snowfall in Kashmir division.