Winter in Kashmir is fading as the 40-day-long Chilai-Kalan, the harshest period is about to end. Though this year’s Chilai-Kalan was not as harsh so far but the miseries winter season brings with itself did cause lot of troubles to a common man.
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 Chilai Kalan more special is the limited wet periods that were witnessed during these 40 days. During the last winter, Kashmir did receive major snowfall in Chalai-Kalan. But this year the weather was not that harsh so far and the people escaped the troubles faced due to closed roads, and dark and cold nights.
The Chilai Kalan however, makes its impact on the economy of the region with Kashmir division 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 four 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 several times due to inclement weather. This meant loss of thousands of crores for the already struggling trade community.
According to the official data, goods and raw materials worth more than 100Cr 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.
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 country 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 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. Kashmir has been witnessing these loses for decades and no sincere thinking mechanism has been put in place to get it resolved so that the weather does not become an impediment to prosperity of the region.