It’s a bad news coming from Kashmir – the severe winter period of 40 days “Chillian Kalan”- December 20 to January 30 – has not seen snow. The deadline for heavy snowfall in Kashmir is fast approaching and if in the next two weeks Kashmir stays snowless or little snow, it will not only affect the Valley and its people but change the national narratives of all positivity of the past two to three years. It is the Mother Nature that it taking its toll on the Valley, but the dry spells can seriously the nation’s narrative vis-à-vis Kashmir. The real problem is that there is no armoury against the nature.
More than half of this period has period has passed, and there are no signs of snowfall anytime soon. Snow is not just an attraction for tourists who come from all over to witness white snowflakes blanket Kashmir , especially the tourist resorts like Gulmarg, Sonmarg – two of the world known tourist destinations , it is elixir for more than seven million population of the Valley. Snowless winter is a death knell for the region in more than one way. Of course, it is a climate change induced phenomenon, created by humans by their greed and neglect of the environment, but this kind of weather is a bad tiding; dry summer, cropless fields and jungle fires. It affects its economy. These factors pose a strategic risk not only for the region but also for the rest of the nation.
For the past two years – 2022 and 2023, the main theme of national narrative about Kashmir is that millions of tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir, enjoyed enchanting beauty of the Valley, its lakes, mountains, glaciers and rivers brimming with water, and chilly winds swept tourist places. Today, the scenario is that most of the tourists who had come to Kashmir to witness snow have returned quite disappointed. The winter tourism thrives on snow, and since it is not there, it is ominous for tourism sector. Tourists find little charm in dry winter. . If this trend continues, to encourage the tourists to visit the Valley in next few months would be very difficult. Tourists find little charm in staying in the Valley unless the weather changes and nature blesses Kashmir with plenty of snow, there will be plenty of bad tidings .This is one of the factors that can affect nation’s narrative about Kashmir.
Why snow during these 40 days of Chillian Kalan is must for the survival of Kashmir as Kashmir. The local belief is that the earth is very cold these days and the snow gets frozen and lasts for months together. Any snowfall after this period does not last long. It tends to melt this post-Chillian Kalan snow not much of the succor to the land and the people. This is the most important and critical period in Kashmir’s calendar.
There are plenty of other worries for the people in Kashmir. The snow has not been sighted even in higher reaches that is mountains. This will inevitably bring water crisis. The rivers are running at their lowest point. The water tables have touched rock bottom. Sandy river beds are expanding, and the people know that the situation will worsen if the Mother Nature doesn’t come to its rescue soon. The agriculture and horticulture sectors are looking at a dismal future as the hanging weather pattern has started taking its toll. It will diminish the economy. Low water levels in rivers will reduce the power generation in J&K. That will multiply crises. Crisis of any stripe in Kashmir has natural consequences. The government will have to come out with a strategy to do a study of the anticipated crisis-ridden period ahead to keep the things going.
Jammu and Kashmir is already grappling with the crisis of terrorism and anti-India narratives despite having pumped in so much money; it is still having a long road ahead to mainstream Kashmir. The climate change can add to worries.
Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)
Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.