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Respond quickly

Most of the district administrations in Kashmir were caught napping this week as heavy snowfall continued to batter the valley since Sunday morning. Kashmir is in the middle of a severe weather wave. Srinagar city alone recorded over a foot of snow by Tuesday evening. In south Kashmir, the condition is even worse as over two feet of snow has completely blocked roads, by-lanes making the movement, both on foot and on vehicles, nearly impossible. While one understands the limitations of manpower as well as latest machinery to deal with such weather vagaries, the lackadaisical approach to the ongoing weather pattern has once again exposed the tall claims of the administration at the district levels. We always get to read the statements by district authorities claiming how they are ready to tackle such challenges. District Disaster Management Teams, and their recces, and rehearsals, all come to a naught when the actual calamity or even a heavy spell of snow befalls. As for the current situation, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), in its latest advisory Tuesday evening, shot a weather warning for several areas in Kashmir and predicted that the ongoing wave of heavy to very heavy snowfall is likely to continue till tomorrow (Wednesday) forenoon. The IMD, in the statement, issued an “Orange” weather warning for south Kashmir, Banihal-Ramban, Chenab Valley, Poonch and Rajouri areas for the next 24 hours. People have been asked to avoid venturing out in snowbound hilly areas as there are chances of snow avalanches. They have been asked to frequently clear snow on rooftops, especially Kaccha Homes. The Disaster Management Authority also issued fresh medium and low-level avalanche warnings for higher reaches of avalanche prone areas of Jammu and Kashmir. As per a communiqué received in this regard, medium level avalanche warning has been issued for higher reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara and Bandipora districts besides Waltengu Nad, South and North portals of Jawahar Tunnel, Verinag, Kapran, Chowkibal-NC Pass, Gurez, Dawar and Neeru areas. Similarly, low level avalanche warning has been issued for the upper reaches of Udhampur, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Sonamarg – Zojila, Z-Gali- Kalaroose, Kanzalwan, Tangmarg and Gulmarg.  As such, people living in these avalanche prone areas are advised not to venture out to avoid loss of lives. While issuing such advisories is helpful, a common man in Kashmir is left to fend for himself, over and over again during such natural and man-made challenges, when it comes to basic issues of mobility, electricity, and sudden disappearing of essential items from markets. One expects both district and divisional level administrations to take a note of this and ensure that citizens see them on the ground, trying to make life a little bit easier for a commoner. At the same time, people are also expected to understand the limitations with which a government functions.