Where is snow!

Let us take all steps that would make our winter WINTER and bless us with the lovely white flakes of SNOW

Nissar Bhat
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 13 2018 11:22PM | Updated Date: Jan 13 2018 11:22PM
Where is snow!File Photo

If winter in Kashmir is linked to snow, there was no WINTER this season— at least so far, for we the city denizens. If snow relates the beauty of Kashmir, this season the Valley was ugly. 

There is every wintry condition – chill, cold, frost— prevailing in the Valley, but no WINTER! There reigns the other side of the winter too – frighteningly dark nights, distressingly shorter days, tediously stretched evenings; haze in the air, chill in the tone. Yet no WINTER! Amazing!

Save snowing, what it usually does it did this season: It sent the darbar out of the Valley; blocked the highway more than once; had the dearth of certain essential commodities – though mild, artificial perhaps if officials are to be believed.

Apart from inflicting the collective damage, it also hit us individually: clogged our chests, made noses to run; laid us haggard and laggard. Yet it was no WINTER.

Snow may have evaded us this season, but it can never elude the Kashmiri poetry that has been and is being weaved by our bards to eulogize the Kashmir beauty. Even the literature in other languages on Kashmir could not afford to skip mention of our snow-clad mountains that in days of yore titillated the nature lovers, spirit thrillers, to this place.

The rigours of winter in Kashmir have been chronicled as early as in Pandit Kalhana’s Rajtarangni. The epic makes an elaborate description of the Valley along with its snow-clad mountains. It makes mention of “heavy and continued snowfall in 1128 AD, the freezing of the Vitasta in the winter of 1087-88 AD, etc.”

It also while drawing a graphic account of the “pretender Bhoja’s fight to the upper Kishenganga Valley” gives full detail of the “difficulties which attend a winter march over the snow-covered mountains to the north of the Valley.”

If snow is so important to us where it is now?  If it has knitted our past a thousand year history, why it is not coming this time around when it should have already come? Why for past couple of decades its interaction with us has become pretty irregular, if not abnormal?

The answer is not difficult to find, thanks the plethora of studies conducted by environmental experts and nature scientists across the globe in this regard. Howsoever we may feel bad about it, the truth is that we have played havoc with our nature and it has paid is in the same coin. 

No wonder, the harmful climate change in the Himalayan region that is guiding Kashmir’s atmospheric conditions is becoming clearer to us by every day. 

The strict caution time and again sounded by accredited environmentalists about changing weather pattern in the region and its impact on Kashmir notwithstanding, we have chosen to live in a cuckoo cloudland. 

The bad news is that this unusual weather pattern believed to be a part of Climate Change and Global Warming in the Himalayan region may worsen in the coming years.  We all know the earth contains many forms of snow and ice— including sea, lake, glaciers, ice caps, etc. Experts believe that climate change can “dramatically alter the earth’s snow and ice-covered areas because snow and ice can easily change between solid and liquid states in response to relatively minor changes in temperature.” 

What should be the cause of concern for us all is that the “annual minimum extent of Arctic sea ice has decreased over time.” 

As per estimates: “In September 2012 it was the smallest ever recorded. The length of the melt season for Arctic ice has grown, and the ice has also become thinner, which makes it more vulnerable to further melting.”

Kashmir can be most vulnerable to global warming and climate change, given its predominant reliance on agriculture, natural resources and forestry.  

The question remains can we really do anything to mitigate this situation? The answer hopefully is yes.

Without losing time, we need to devise a structured environmental mitigation programme covering both the theoretical as well as the practical aspects of the matter. Sadly, we have quite a little amount of research material focussing exclusively on the ecology of Kashmir available. In absence of adequate material we have ignored even the ‘precautionary principle’ laid down by the Supreme Court of India and followed by High Courts across the country. 

The principle envisages that scientific uncertainty should not preclude regulation of activities posing risk to environment. Not only that, this approach to risk management provides that “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.” 

It is time that this principle is implemented in the state in letter and spirit. 

Regarding the other steps required to be taken without any loss of time, the foremost is the protection of our forests and water bodies. As we are still wet-behind-ears in this field, why not a credible international consultancy be roped in to suggest ways for protection of our water bodies? 

Let us take all steps that would make our winter WINTER and bless us with the lovely white flakes of SNOW.

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