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The unending woes

With fresh snowfall in most parts of the valley and frequent closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway, there is no let up to the problems of common people. These rather get multiplied with each passing day. Though winter comes with host of problems for the people of Kashmir every year but this winter is proving to be phenomenal. That was evident other day when most parts of the valley received snow and rains and temperature fell to below normal. Though the upper parts of the valley received heavy snowfall, however, it was quite moderate in the north Kashmir while  Srinagar witnesses intermittent rains. However, it appeared enough send normal life out of gear, and people got stuck in their house. Sub zero temperature apart, the power supply, which remains quite meagre even in normal days, was adversely affected. Most parts of the city were left to be reeling under darkness. Three key departments of the administration—Power, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) and PWD/SMC—which are crucial for restoring the normalcy in such situations seem to be nowhere around. Some lowest ordered members—linemen—of the Power department could be seen somewhere here or there checking and examining the power supply lines but the senior staff was altogether missing. The CAPD officials never tread beyond their offices even in normal days. Their absence from scene in snowy days is not surprising. They have left it to the common people to mend themselves for their problems. Their writ hardly runs in the streets. The department is supposed to take care of the essential commodities, their prices, quality and availability but they could never been seen on their duties. The price and availability of essential commodities solely lies on the whims and fancy of the sellers. On occasions one finds the CAPD officials issuing price list of different commodities but it is never followed in the market. The sellers charge arbitrarily without any fear of being caught or accounted for. In abnormal situations as on Monday, it is not difficult to guess about the functioning of the department.

The closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway only but makes the life even more difficult. Over the past one month, the highway, barring some occasions, has remained shut for the traffic, blocking the supply of essential commodities. The highway is in worst condition with landslides, shooting stones and road sinking becoming a regular feature. After every one or two days, the road is closed for general traffic due to one or the other reason. Since the season’s first snowfall in November, the highway has remained shut for most of the time. The reasons are not only natural but man-made too. The haphazard and unplanned human interference in the mountainous region in the name of road-widening is the main reason of cataclysms in major parts of the highway. The 51-km Banihal—Ramban—Naushri patch and 25-km Chinani—Udhampur stretch are in the worst condition. On a normal day when there are no landslides or any other hindrance, it takes a passenger vehicle 8 to 10 hours to cross over the danger zone. For truckers, it is normal for them to take three to four days to cross over the highway. Since Lt Governor and the entire upper cover of the administration is in Jammu, the so-called divisional administration in Kashmir is only in name. It is earless, and no amount of complains, criticism, protests or newspaper reports are enough to wake it up. If one concludes that the valley people have lost all hope, it is not going overboard. At this crucial juncture, the LG should come to the rescue and admonish his administration and put it back on gear in Kashmir to meet the anger and despair of the people.