Kashmir Snowfall: A Detailed Reports On Power, Water and Roads

SRINAGAR: The not-so unexpected snowfall on Tuesday night pushed Kashmir to the typical winter when it would stay disconnected from the rest of the world. With all the 41 flights cancelled, the main highway closed for traffic, the near paralytic situation was the power outage and absence of public transport.

In wake of the snowfall, no examination could take place across Kashmir. While the universities had already cancelled their examinations, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission has rescheduled one examination slated for today.

The weatherman did not rule out additional snowfall in upper areas but the weather conditions triggered by the fresh douse of western disturbances impacted life completely. Upper areas will have to stand cautious of possible avalanches.

Officials said that a group of six men had left for Warwan on foot from Anantnag. They had made the last call from Margan Top 20 hours ago and since there is no contact. Now the army has launched a search operation to locate the six men. The people use the mountain trek during summers but it is rare in winters.

When snowfall is going on, it is very difficult to see the people who are working, A view of municipal workers on the job after February 23, 2022 snowfall jammed Kashmir. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Power Supply

What was impressive throughout Kashmir was the work that various wings of the power department – in fact, the twin corporation, were doing throughout the day. Though other departments were also working the power restoration is completely a manual job where they do not have the luxury of mechanical inputs or machines.

At least two vehicles were damaged after a power transmission tower collapsed due to snowfall in Balhama, on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Official sources said the 220-kV lines are all rights but three 132-kV lines have been seriously impacting the Srinagar periphery, Chadoora and Kulgam. The damage to the Kulgam power line has impacted a length of almost 9 km and will take a few days for restoration. Two vehicles – JK02BP 2513 and  JK02AL 1648 were damaged when the power transmission tower fell at Balhama. Its collapse blocked Sempora Khrew road for some time. 

The distribution network in Srinagar city – the main consumer of power, was crippling in the morning with outages exceeding 70 per cent. Till later in the noon, the overall load was not more than 400 MW. However, the corporation personnel worked for more than 12 hours on Wednesday and restored most of the city. They, however, said some areas will be restored by noon on Thursday. Areas in north Kashmir are up by around 60 per cent but it is much less in the south Kashmir which witnessed most of the snow.

The heavier snowfall – owing to the huge water content, has added load to the fragile distribution network and led to its collapse at various places. The power corporation people were seen even moving through water bodies in freezing cold with their ladders to restore the supply.

The snowfall did trigger a lot of interest in the tourists, a number of whom are stuck in Srinagar. The newlywed couples were seen roaming around and playing with the snow, even in Lal Chowk.

Impact on Dwellings

There were reports of a few houses getting impacted by the heavier snowfall but officials said the exact details will be known once the full surface access is restored. A report suggested that in a Pulwama village, Acchan – falling in Litter belt, a house was impacted and one lady was injured who was rushed to the hospital in an earth remover, the only vehicle that would approach the heavy snowfall in the area.

The lady was identified as Arifa Banoo, 45, wife of Mohammad Shafi Dar, who was cooking in the kitchen shed when collapsed over her.

This is how a Srinagar lane looks snow when it is snow. People walking snow-covered road after fresh snowfall in Srinagar on February 23, 2022, KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

In Srinagar, a few houseboats and six Shikara boats were impacted by the snow. Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Aijaz Asad who visited the lake said they had sunken because of the heavier snow. There has not been any loss to life, however. Earlier during the day it was reported that nearly a dozen houseboats and Shikaras had sunk in the Dal due to incessant pouring of the snow.

In Awantipore village of Gulzarpora, a family had a providential escape when the mighty Walnut tree, under the shadow of which they live in a house, fell over their single-story house. However, Farooq Ahmad Sheikh’s family somehow managed to escape unhurt. The house, however, was hugely damaged.

No Flights

Srinagar was supposed to have more than 20 flights. But the snowfall led to the cancellation of all the 4o-odd flights. Airport authorities confirmed that the inclement weather did not permit any operations during the day. They said the passengers impacted by the cancellation will be flown on Wednesday.

The highway remained closed and officials said it is highly unlikely that it will be open for traffic on Thursday. The train that runs between Baramulla and Banihal also remained frozen today.

Passengers blame airline companies for skyrocketing ticket prices after all flights were cancelled. Now tickets are costing a fortune. Omar Abdullah termed the cost hike “a day light robbery”.

Weather Forecast

Met Department in Srinagar said Central Kashmir received around 8-9 inches of snow, unlike South where more than two ft of snow was recorded. In higher reaches, it was between three and four ft.

“Precipitation intensity has decreased slightly and we expect a significant decrease by tonight,” Sonam Lotus, Director of the Meteorological Department in Srinagar said. “Overall, improvement is most likely from February 24, although light to moderate rain or snow is likely to continue at scattered places during the next two days.”

Lotus told Kashmir Life that the people living on the slopes, especially in the upper reaches will have to stay cautious because of the lurking avalanches.

Politicians Speak

Meanwhile, senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar asked the administration to come to the aid of people, whose lives have gone out of gear in wake of the heavy snowfall that lashed the Kashmir division the other day.

Life across the Kashmir division including Srinagar city has come to a grinding halt as the administration has miserably failed to address post snowfall issues, Sagar said, adding that the electricity distribution system, surface connectivity, water supply has been badly affected.

“I have received various SOS calls from Srinagar city, North, South and central Kashmir districts where people continue to face many inconveniences following the heavy downpour. I was told that the heavy snowfall has thrown life out of gear in the upper reaches of Baramulla, Bandipur, Kupwara, Anantnag, Shopian Pulwama, Kulgam, Srinagar districts. The electricity, as well as potable water supply stands disrupted. In case there is any emergency on health grounds, locals are at a loss to shift the patients to the hospital as authorities have failed to clear snow from roads,” he said

Urging the authorities to initiate immediate snow clearance from the City centre and all the Kashmir districts including far-flung areas and upper reaches of the Kashmir division, Sagar said the way administration catapulted in the city one can imagine what the situation would be in our villages and towns.

Div Com Speaks

The Divisional Commissioner (Div Com) Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole today said that all the essential services are being restored on a war footing basis for the convenience of the general public.

He informed that plain areas of South Kashmir received 2 to 3 feet of Snow while Central Kashmir received 1 to 1.5 feet of Snow and North Kashmir 0.5 to 1 foot beside hilly areas received 2 to 4 feet of Snow which affected normal life and services.

Div Com said that the Mechanical Engineering Department completed 70% Snow clearance under Priority Phase-I while PWD  cleared Snow from all the roads falling under its jurisdiction.

Besides, Div Com informed that apart from 5 to 6 per cent water supply lines, which have been affected, all other Water Supply Schemes are functional.  He said that the affected WSSs will be restored soon for which men and machinery have been put on work.

Regarding the power scenario, Div Com said that 20 to 25 per cent of power lines have been affected due to Snowfall. He said the Divisional Administration is working to restore electricity to the affected areas by evening.

Div Com further informed that no casualty has been reported till now due to the Snow and said that all the hospitals are functional while entire medical and paramedics staff is available in hospitals to render their duties and services. He said all essential services are being restored on priority and on a war footing basis.

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