Winter Woes

Come autumn, Kashmir gets overwhelmed by dullness that nature paints on its landscape. With the summer charm over, the natives start preparations for the onslaught of mighty Chilai-e-Kalan, a break-backing task for all sections of the society. But this is the only burden the locals have to carry for months together. The absence of government machinery during the harsh winter multiplies the tragedy of common man. Literally the valley is left to the mercy of nature.

The first casualty is the electricity supply. With the passing of days, the bulbs first become dimmer and then waiting hours for the current to lighten up these become longer and longer. With the burgeoning electricity bill, the state has to pay to buy power from Indian companies, there seems to be no end to the power crisis at least in the immediate future. So as per norm, Kashmiris have to bear with load shedding and power cuts this winter also.

For a long time now power crisis has been central to Kashmir politics. Successive governments have unsuccessfully tried to address this issue by wrestling back control of NHPC run power projects in the state. The issue repeatedly figured during negotiations between PDP and BJP before they went to for a formal alliance to rule the state. It was assured that one of the major concessions that Mufti will get his “powerless” people will be NHPC projects. It has been seven months of PDP-BJP government already but nobody is talking about it anymore. It issue has met a fate that many political commentators foresaw even before Mufti formally shook hands with Modi. Yet, people on the ground could not stop lingering the hopes of a bright and lightened up future!

But given the way PDP government has so far performed on the ground, be it disaster preparedness in wake of continuous flood threats or rehabilitation of flood victims, the hope is fading quickly. So is the patience of the people on ground. Within a few days the entire government machinery will be shifted to Jammu, leaving Kashmir to look for itself. For next six months of its stay in Jammu, nobody from the government will bother to enquire about people living in extreme weather conditions in Kashmir.

The amount of money government spends annually on a practice started by the Dogra autocrats, can be utilized for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It needs more than political will to scrap this practice. But with RSS backed BJP in power in J&K, such a move is unthinkable for passive coalition partner PDP.

With dark and ruthless winter ahead, Kashmiris are once again left to fend for themselves.

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