The India Meteorological Department (MeT) has issued a warning of heavy snowfall and rain in the high and mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, January 9. Manmohan Singh, Director of the MeT department in Shimla said that a fresh western disturbance is likely to affect the western Himalayan region and adjoining plains of north-west India from January 10 and snowfall and light to moderate rains are likely to occur in most places in the state from January 10-12.
Manali in Kullu district continued to reel under a severe cold wave, with a minimum temperature of minus 4 degrees Celsius, while Lahaul-Spiti’s administrative headquarters, Keylong continued to be the coldest place in the state with a low of minus 11 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in Kinnaur’s Kalpa was minus 7 degrees Celsius and the state’s capital, Shimla recorded a minimum of 3.4 degrees Celsius. In Kufri, the minimum recorded temperature was 0.7 degrees Celsius.
On January 3, higher ranges in the state experienced the year’s first snowfall and heavy rains while rest of the state recorded mainly dry weather and an extremely cold wave paralysing daily life in the state.
Also Read: First Apple, Now Potato: How Snow has Hit Tribal Farmers in Lahaul
Government Unprepared, Residents Forced to Come Out on Streets
The MeT officials had then issued an advisory to the state to be prepared for heavy snowfall with activation of western disturbance in the state. Despite the advisory by the MeT department to the state, most areas of HP which received snowfall on January 5, plunged into darkness with hours of blackout as electricity supply was snapped.
The state capital, Shimla suffered a power cut for more than 11 hours forcing residents of Sanjauli to come out on the streets and protest in severe cold weather to prompt electricity officials to restore power supply in the region.
It has also been reported that remote districts which received heavy snowfall like Lahaul-Spiti have been experiencing electricity cut for weeks at length with no linemen to repair poles in the region.
Once again with the onset of snowfall, the state government has been facing flak from the masses as residents called out the government’s mismanagement and unpreparedness for the winter season. Social media was ablaze with criticism for the Jairam Thakur-led BJP government for ignoring repair work before the start of winter season as has been the customary practice in the state.
Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla told NewsClick, “This has happened for the first time that Shimla city did not have electricity supply for almost 11 hours. If this is the scenario in the state’s capital, one can well imagine what is going on in the rest of the state.”
He further said, “This is because of the neo-liberal policies of the current BJP Government. The HP Electricity Board had over 11 lakh subscribers and 44,000 employees earlier. Now, with outsourcing and privatisation, it has over 20 lakh subscribers and 14,000 employees. There is definitely a shortage and it is because of this that the people of the state have to suffer.”
Chauhan further added, “The water supply in the state has been affected. In the villages the condition is so bad that a number of villages get water after intervals of 11 days. This is because most of the villages lift water from the water bodies using machinery that requires electricity. The city of Shimla already has its infamous water crisis problem. The winter and snow is just making it worse.”