Out of Gear

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On the last day of 2013 Kashmir woke up to a white blanket of snow. It was the season’s first heavy snowfall. Everything around looked white and clean. There was no sign of the man’s avarice that has turned this once fabled valley of dreams in a living nightmare. It was like god has cleaned Kashmir and its people of all their sins. The once beautiful saffron Karewas of Pampore, which have been vandalized beyond recognition or repair, are buried under snow and given respite for the day. There are no heavy earth movers around. It seems as if the land mafia, who go about their business undisturbed round the year, have taken a day off too.

The snow has kept people indoors. Even the sand diggers, who have been racing against time since last few years to meet Kashmir’s grown appetite for raw material after construction boom was forced on us. The bleeding Jhelum, which once used to survive people on its endless bounties, has finally been spared for the day. The banks of Jhelum where once ducks roamed freely are flushed with human excreta. The river of sorrow, as it has been turned into now, wishes for this snow to fall forever so that she gets a fresh lease of life.

While it is good to have a momentarily pause in life from all the mindless hunt for a better life without a care for environment, every year snow falls like reality over Kashmir and its people. How prepared are we to deal with situations like snow, storms, floods, heavy rainfall etc gets exposed without no time.

Apart from the main road link between Qazigund and Baramullah everything was buried under snow. With major healthcare and other basic facilities confined in Srinagar city, people living in the rural Kashmir get transported to medieval times with a few inches of snow. Everything comes to a halt. People living in rural areas are left with no other option but to trek miles through thick snow to avail such facilities. There is no way government can ensure people that they will be taken care of even during hard times.

But instead of helping people entire government machinery gets out of gear as soon as first snow flake hits the ground. The yearlong preparedness by different government agencies in dealing with such situations get exposed as soon as we are faced with tough situation. In Kashmir, where snow is as real as life itself, waiting for the day when everything comes to a halt and then act is foolishness.

Why can’t we prepare ourselves in advance before snow or any other natural element puts our life out of gear? Why only we fail to learn from our past? Why each year we start afresh to put an end to all our miseries? Is it so difficult to enjoy snowfall in Kashmir!

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