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Proactive approach


The recent snowfall and its aftermath have brought to the fore several issues in Kashmir. It has happened for the first time in recent history that the valley is in the grip of a tough winter. People are living through Chillai Kalan what it is really known for. The snow that fell and accumulated over a week ago is refusing to melt, has made commuting exceedingly difficult, has clogged water pipes, burst tanks, and is really making winters real wintery. The temperatures have dropped several notches below zero as people wake up to cold, foggy mornings. In fact, one does not even feel like leaving their bed in the morning given the chill outside. Amidst this, people in Kashmir, especially the middle-class segment, are facing real challenges, and are living through it by means of old tried and tested ways to beat the cold. Kangri has once again proved why it is so essential to a Kashmiri and how, amid fluctuating electricity and bone-chilling cold, it is one respite that all of us are able to afford. While people are somehow managing through this weather, it has also posed a lot of questions when it comes to administration and governance in the valley. The administration at both district and divisional levels should ensure that they are better prepared to deal with weather vagaries since people from across the valley reported there was delay in clearance of snow and resumption of essential facilities like electricity. Even though district disaster management committees already exist in the valley, the same must be more responsive whenever such sudden weather change turns life upside down in Kashmir. For instance, the lack of proper equipment and manpower were also highlighted by Srinagar Mayor after he was widely questioned for the Corporation’s delay in clearing snow of the roads and by-lanes in the city. One may suggest that whenever such a challenge arises, there is need for joint action from several government departments. R&B, SMC, and other relevant departments all have to work in close coordination with the respective district disaster management teams so that there would be timely and smooth action on the ground and people see the change on the ground. It is significantly important that all concerned departments work in coordination and cordially to deliver the best and time bound services to the citizens. The authorities must adopt a proactive approach to deal with the weather vagaries in Kashmir. They must establish winter control rooms to monitor and resolve grievances regarding power, water, essential supplies, health services, road connectivity, and emergency evacuation/rescue. The concerned officers should ensure they put in place a mechanism to issue timely weather advisories to alert the public of the extreme weather conditions.