January 2018 News

Prolonged Dry Spell Triggers Worries

26 January 2018
Rising Kashmir
Musaib Hafiz and Riyaz Bhat

Srinagar: Experts have expressed concern over the prolonged dry spell which has aggravated health issues and affected the tourist flow to Kashmir. In the absence of snowfall, the tourist footfall has gone down and, according to the MET department, the dry spell is likely to prevail till the end of this month. Kashmir Valley received snowfall on December 12 last year that brought cheer to people. Incharge director MET department, Mukhtar Ahmad, told Rising Kashmir that there would not be any precipitation in Srinagar till January 31. 'Possibility of light snow and rains will be witnessed at isolated places of Kashmir,' he said. According to MET officials the heaviest snowfall since 1980 was recorded in Srinagar in the months of January and February and was 162.2 mm in 2017. The lowest was recorded 5.6 in 2015. 'In this season, we didn't recieve even average precipitation in the Valley, that's an alarming concern. The dryness will affect agriculture, tourism and power generation and have adverse affect to the environment,' he said. The dry spell has caused weather related ailments of common cold and cough related diseases among the locals especially kids and elderly people throughout the valley. Dr Naveed Shah, a reputed physician with Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar said that 'due to dry spell humidity decreases and cold climate and dryness in weather results into different viral infections,' 'The respiratory immune system gets more prone to infections like cold, cough, headache,' he said Dr Shah further added that the patients already suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and acute respiratorydistress syndrome should avoid cold weather and take proper precaution when going out. Due to the dry weather, Valley's tourism industry has faced a bad season as far as the tourist footfall was concerned. Vacationers and adventure tourists have declined in number compared to past few years as snow remains the main attraction for the people. J S Dhillon, renowned mountaineer and Principal Indian Institute of Mountaineering and Skiing (IISM), told Rising Kashmirthat 'global warming is affecting and playing lead role in prolonged dry spell in Kashmir and for professional tourists snow is not enough.' 'Hardly 3-4 feet of snow is found at Gulmarg compared to 12-16 feet of in 80's, and the snow is not sufficient for attracting the tourists,' Dhillion said Environmentalists have sounded an alarm saying that Kashmir would witness 30-70 percent reduction in snowfall by end of this century due to climatic change. Head of the Earth Sciences department at Kashmir University, Prof Shakeel Ramshoo, said due to the climatic change and global warming, Kashmir valley is likely to witness 30-70 percent less snowfall after the end of this century. 'According to our research there has been increase in average temperature in Kashmir during the harsh winters especially in Chilai Kalan and I think this a valid proof of change in weather pattern,' Ramshoo added. He further said, 'From past 30-40 years the environmental degradation in the Valley is one of the major reasons for the less snow and rainfall. However the climatic change and global warming has also totally changed the weather pattern in the Valley. Our grandchildren's will have to go to the upper reaches like Gulmarg or Sonamarg to enjoy the snowfall here,' he said. 'The climatic change and the weather pattern of Kashmir has become a serious issue as the adverse effect in the increase of temperature due to the destruction of the environment and ecological imbalance has reduced the snowfall,' Ramshoo added. Environmental experts told Rising Kashmir the global climatic change and the destruction of forests, water bodies and other natural resources have 'affected and are changing the weather pattern globally with time.' An environmental scientist Abdul Majeed Kak said, 'Exploitation of water bodies and deforestation by the government is the major reason responsible for less snowfall in the valley.' He said that timber smuggling was responsible for environmental degradation. Famous Kashmiri historian and poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef said, 'Fifty years back Srinagar was witnessing more than 7 feet of snow each winter but due to the use of advanced technologies and deforestation a lot of damage has been done to our environment,' Zareef further said that the electric appliances are also responsible for the increase of temperature to cause 'global warming'. 'Till 1960's the snow on hills and plains of Srinagar city was not usually melting rapidly due to the cool temperature,' Zareef added.