The Legitimate Desk: Snowfall
The Early snowfall in Kashmir this year has not only played havoc with the fruit industry but has once again caught administration off guard with ill preparations on ground.
The MET office in Srinagar recorded snowfall from three to four inches in planes and 9 to 10 inches in the upper belts of the Valley, however, the snowfall plunged entire Valley into darkness at least for 24 hours, even hospitals and other emergency services had been without electricity after backup systems failed at some places.
This is not the first time when snowfall happened in November at the beginning of the chilly winter months. According to Meteorological Director, Sonum Lotus this is fourth time in last two decades that Kashmir has witnessed snow in the month of November.
The cause of worry, however, is the unprecedented losses which our horticulture sector has faced due to the early snowfall. In South Kashmir, the growers not only lost their yield of late varieties of the Apple, the untimely snowfall also caused extensive damage to the trees in orchards.
Officials acknowledge the losses in South Kashmir are on the higher side compared to northern parts of Kashmir.
The initial estimates reflected by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and the All Valley Fruit growers Association -an amalgam of different fruit associations have pegged the loss around Rs 500 to 1000 crore or even higher.
The officers of horticulture department along with revenue authorities are still compiling the quantum of losses; however, on the initial estimates the government has declared the recent snowfall as a natural calamity which means the growers and farmers could be compensated as the natural disaster.
The horticulture is Kashmir’s mainstay trade with more than two million people directly or indirectly related with it and annual turnover is hovering around Rs 5000 to 6000 crores.
Any big loss to this industry could have far reaching impact on the overall economy of the state.
Without wasting any time the state and Centre government should come up with a package for the growers and also state government should form teams of experts who will guide the growers how to save their damaged trees.
Also for the future, the steps must be taken to bring Valleys fruit under the crop insurance scheme.
Due to global warming the weather patterns are changing fast and natural calamities could become frequent, the crop insurance schemes could act as cushion for the people who are dependent on the farming and fruit.
The growers had been demanding the implementation of the scheme from past two decades but of no avail.
The weatherman has already predicted more snowfall and rain in the coming weeks, the governor Satya Pal Malik should direct his officers and advisors to remain ready for any exigency.
Going by the past experiences whether like flood of 2014, the government didn’t take these issues seriously, but time has come when even small things should be taken seriously.
Also in the winter months when darbar shifts to winter capital and all the officialdom and top politicians could be seen in winter capital, the government should assign some dedicated officers in Kashmir who will overlook and try to mitigate the miseries of common masses in the winter months.
Winter is a special blessing for Kashmir as it brings rain and snowfall which is very vital for the sustenance and for the crop and fruit of the Valley, only thing government has to remain alert and prepared, then only snowfall in winter could turn into blessing.