Season’s first snowfall

Traditionally and culturally, the first snowfall in Kashmir has been an occasion to celebrate and wish one another “Nov Sheen” or fresh snow of the season when the one who first exchanges greetings is due for a treat from the other with whom it is exchanged. A peculiar ecstasy fills the environment and it is an occasion to watch the slowly but gracefully falling snow flakes , how very silently unlike the noise and the roar of torrential rains heavy snowfalls never make any noise and how everything in the open would get all white as if thick paintings done on a canvas. It is an occasion in showing ‘dexterity’ of making snow ghosts, throwing snow balls on one another and the like have been the ways to receive and welcome snowfalls in the Valley. For tourists, at places like Gulmargetc, it is a thing most longed for and a great experience to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ snow. In fact, majority of tourists do visit the Valley in winters only to enjoy the snowfall and if it is the first one of the season, it is treated as a bonus by them.
Times, however, have changed, with the weather conditions changing due to ecological imbalances, environmental pollution and abuse, shirking forests and other reasons, have all resulted in not only the frequency and the volume of snowfalls starting waning and the same being few and far between but late seasonal and scant snowfalls started becoming the order of the nature in the valley, of course with rare exceptions. The other phenomenal approach towards snowfalls have, of late, usually been largely describing and presenting the same generally in negative way as an unwanted inconvenience and discomfiture to people instead of treating it a boon or a gift from the nature and stress has been now shifted on how roads got blocked and traffic went off the routine schedule or electric supplies got disrupted and not what if there were no snowfalls at all.
Well, these are the changes and the approaches in perceiving things which perhaps only those who could indulge in reminiscing past memories and compare the scenario between four decades ago and thereafter down the line could feel and realise too. However,the other face of the picture is that ‘then’ also roads were getting blocked, lanes and streets getting difficult to move on them, electricity supply getting snapped for days together depending upon the severity of the snowfall, essential items getting short in supply, flights between Srinagar and rest of the country which used to be just a few getting cancelled and the same happening even now, is raising many questions in respect of how well organised is the apparatus of the Government to address such issues as a fallout of a snowfall, which when especially is there unexpectedly too early forgetting that nature is supreme. However, though usually now snowfalls are seen around in the middle of December but last year also we had experienced the first snowfall too early like this year even on November 3 which could have made the administration conscious of how best was its preparedness to address such an eventuality this year. Sorry, it was found napping and ill prepared and the resultant problems were witnessed.
The National Highway closed for the second consequent day meaning disruptions in the supply of essential commodities including milk, vegetables and other items. Power breakdown in many areas of the Valley having resulted as a result of the snowfall has traditionally remained so without any foolproof mechanism to resolve the same. The snowfall had a gory face of it in the form of resulting in the death of seven people including a PDD employee when a snow laden branch of a Chinar tree fell on anautorickshawin outskirts of Srinagar. However, with the weather conditions expected to improve, the situation was expected to return towards usual normalcy.
The Government must try to learn from its unpreparedness to deal with the ancillary and associated problems, the first snowfall in Kashmir valley brought in its wake in order to deal effectively in the very near future as winter has just set in so that the difficulties of the people were minimised to the barest possible levels.