Sub-zero temperature in Kashmir has residents in several districts of the valley and Ladakh region adopting primitive mode of life to survive harsh winters. The severe cold wave has forced the government to shut primary schools for a three-month vacation, 15 days earlier than the schedule, in Kashmir valley.
All hotels and houses in Leh, 434 km away from Srinagar, have closed water-run lavatories fearing damages to pipes due to freezing of water and started using dry ones.
“People in Leh have switched over to dry lavatories as the temperature continues to be syb-zero even during day time. It is dangerous to have running water through taps as they can freeze and burst due to severe cold,” Rayees Qureshi, working with the HDFC bank in Leh, told the HT over phone.
Traditional mode of heating like coal and kerosene heaters are in demand as the electricity availability has dropped to around six to eight hours a day.
According to meteorological department in Srinagar, the Ladakh region has recorded a biting temperature of minus 11.4 degrees Celsius last night.
The Srinagar-Leh road has witnessed snowfall on several passes hindering normal traffic flow to the region. Fresh vegetables are already scarce due to lack of supply. “Dry vegetables and pulses are all people survive on during winters,” said Qureshi.
Doctors have advised people to wear heavy woolen clothes, fur head-gear and eat butter to battle the cold.
The mutton-lovers of Leh have sheep and goat hanging from the ceiling in several villages. “Meat does not rot as the entire region turns into a deep freezer. It’s easy to have meat for longer period here without catching any germs,” said Khursheed Wani, a businessman in Leh.
Stock piles of necessary amenities like food items and cooking gas have already been shipped to Kargil district and Gurez area in Bandipora district, which remain cut off from other parts for six months. The two have been declared out of bounds due to heavy snowfall on the highways and the air traffic is being arranged to connect the areas.
“The government is making arrangements for the operation of AN-32 Air Courier service to be operated between Srinagar-Kargil and Kargil-Jammu and Mi-17 air force flights between Bandipore-Gurez and Kargil-Zanskar so that passengers of the area, which remain cut-off due to heavy snowfall, do not face any difficulty, especially in the event of flight cancellations due to bad weather,” said Amir Ali, spokesman of Kashmir divisional commissioner Asgar Samoon’s office.
Kargil and Gurez have recorded around minus seven degree Centigrade and the temperature is expect to fall in the coming days.
In Srinagar, which recorded minus 2 degree Centigrade last night, has all primary schools closed 15 days earlier than the schedule.
“There are chances of light snowfall in the higher reaches, the plains of valley and the Ladakh region. This would provide some relief as the temperature is likely to rise because of the cloud cover accompanying the snowfall,” said Met director Sonam Lotus.