Winter in Kashmir is fading as the 40-day-long Chilai-Kalan, the harshest period ends today with MeT officials here saying that this year’s Chilai-Kalan was harshest-ever in a span of 12 years.
Chilai-Kalan begins annually on December 21 and the average minimum temperatures during this season’s Chilai-Kalan plummeted to minus 6.4 degree Celsius. In 2007, the lowest minimum temperature recorded during Chilai-Kalan was minus 7.2 degree Celsius.
What made this ChilaiKalan more special is the wet periods that were witnessed during these 40 days. Officials are saying that this year witnessed the highest number of wet spells compared to the last 10 years.
During the last winter, Kashmir did not receive any major snowfall in Chalai-Kalan. But this year the weather was harsh to the extent that 21 people died due to weather vagaries, including 10 labourers who died in Ladakh after two trucks they were travelling in were swept by a powerful snow avalanche.
Similarly, the ChilaiKalan made its impact on the economy of the state with Kashmir region being hit primarily. During the harsh winter period of December and January the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway faced several disruptions with the last disruption swelling upto seven straight days.
Apart from road disruptions, air transport was also affected as many flights were either cancelled altogether or were rescheduled.
The revenue and trade loss which the disruptions have caused is huge. During the past two months the Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed 21 times due to inclement weather. This meant that close to two thousand crores were lost.
According to the state finance department data, goods and raw materials worth Rs 95 crore are imported to Kashmir on any given day and working out the arrangement it pans out that trucks loaded with goods and raw materials could not reach their destinations in time during the closure of the highway which hampered the normal trade cycle.
The recently-released government figures say that J&K imported goods and raw material worth Rs 58050 crore in 2017-18, of which 60 percent (around Rs 34,800 crore), was consumed in Kashmir.
Though there has not been a detailed study on losses incurred during the highway closure, business leaders say 30 percent worth of supplies are losses, as the convoy trucks coming from other parts of the state carry perishable goods, which, once stuck in the highway, lose their value on arrivals.
Similarly, the flight disruptions end up bringing loses to the tourism sector, with trade experts saying that the flight disruptions resulted in cancellations and bookings.
This being the state of affairs, the state government is faced with a multifaceted task of working on both these fronts. Providing an alternate to the only road link and upgrading the facilities at the Srinagar airport so as to make it an all weather airport which will bear severe snowfall and weather disturbances.
The task is difficult but somewhere an initiative has to be taken.