Cold Bites In Kashmir
31 December 2007
Srinagar: Kashmir had its coldest day of the season so far with the minimum temperature falling to minus 7.2 degrees Celsius yesterday. 'The minimum temperature today was minus 7.2 degrees Celsius making December 31 the coldest day of the season so far,' said T K Jotshi, assistant director, of the local weather office here. 'For the next few days we are expecting the same weather conditions to continue. It is going to be dry and cold and the minimum temperatures are going to stay around minus seven degrees Celsius for the next few days,' Jotshi said. Kashmir has been experiencing extreme cold this winter because of an extended dry spell that has led to water shortages and forest fires in the Valley, which ironically is known as the land of rivers, springs and streams. The Dal Lake in the state's summer capital Srinagar has frozen in many places. As the local rivers are flowing at their lowest, electricity supply has become very erratic. 'We have been over-drawing electricity from the northern grid on a regular basis. The generation from local power stations is low this time,' said Khwaja Nisar, chief engineer electric maintenance (Kashmir), here. 'To ward off the cold, residents here use electric heaters, electric blowers, blankets and so on to kept their homes warm. 'This happens almost entirely by way of pilferage as the actual consumption in such cases far exceeds the agreed load between the consumer and the department putting unforeseen pressure on our systems,' the chief engineer asserted. 'Forest fires are raging at many places in the valley. Unless it rains or snows in the near future, the situation could worsen,' said Shabir Ahmad, 38, who lives in a mountain village in Ganderbal district of north Kashmir. toll over a dozen in Bihar A cold wave sweeping parts of Bihar has claimed over a dozen lives in the state, officials said yesterday. Most of the victims are children and elderly people in Nawada, Gaya, East Champaran, Gopalganj, Saharsa and Darbhanga districts. Official sources said three people died in Farbisganj, four in Nawada, two in Darbhanga and one each in East Champaran, Katihar and Saharsa. Unconfirmed reports said two people died in Gaya, one in Patna and two each in Jehanabad and Arwal districts in the last 24 hours. Scattered rain, chilly winds and blinding fog have added to the misery of the people. The mercury dipped to six degrees Celsius in some parts of the state. The fog affected road and rail transport Sunday and yesterday morning with trains running four to five hours behind schedule. Meteorological office director T N Jha said the condition could worsen in the first week of January. 'There is an indication of a long spell of cold this year,' he said. The relief and rehabilitation department has directed the district administrations to use public buildings to provide shelter to the poor and homeless people at night. The government is yet to announce plans for the distribution of blankets to poor people.