Kashmir’s cry for snow: Farmer’s resort to prayers amidst drying rivers, dry spell

Kashmir’s cry for snow: Farmer’s resort to prayers amidst drying rivers, dry spell

Bhat Yasir

Each morning, Abdul Ahad Khan, a 59-year-old farmer from Batengoo in Khanabal, makes a pilgrimage to the banks of the Jhelum, a mere 400 meters from his residence. “I come right here each morning to verify the water ranges of Jhelum. This water stage in Jhelum is our lifeline. Our meals produce, agriculture, water, and the whole lot else rely upon this water. But it surely seems to be prefer it has not been snowing up within the mountains. It worries me. Kashmir has seen the worst of occasions for the final 4 years,” laments Khan.

As on Sunday, water stage within the Jhelum River has reached its lowest level because of a protracted dry spell in Kashmir. “River Jhelum was flowing at -0.75 ft at Sangam (Anantnag district) and -0.86 ft at Asham (Bandipora district) on Sunday morning. That is the bottom water stage within the river,” the officers stated. It had dropped to this stage at Sangam in November 2017, they stated.

Kashmir is experiencing an prolonged dry spell this winter, marked by minimal snowfall and a staggering 79 % rainfall deficit recorded for December. Most elements of the valley have witnessed no precipitation within the first fortnight of January.

The enduring Gulmarg ski resort, usually blanketed in snow throughout this season, stands dry. Whereas the higher reaches of the valley have acquired a diminished quantity of snow, most plain areas of Kashmir stay devoid of snowfall.

The dry climate has led to a surge in bushfires throughout the hilly areas of the valley. Collaborative efforts by the Forest Division, locals, and deployed Military personnel contain utilizing fireplace beaters and transportable extinguishing tools to forestall the flames from encroaching upon close by forests.

An advisory has been issued to residents in forest areas, outlining precautionary measures equivalent to avoiding open flames, reporting suspicious actions, adhering to fireside restrictions, planning out of doors actions fastidiously, and reporting fires instantly. Emergency contact numbers have been offered for swift reporting, emphasizing the essential position of group involvement in stopping and controlling forest fires.

A senior engineer from the Jal Shakti division warned, “If the current dry spell continues until the tip of Chillai Kalan, then we’re headed for a depressing summer season water scenario. Snowfall after the Chillai Kalan hardly replenishes the perennial water reservoirs within the mountains.”

Environmentalists emphasised the affect of local weather change on crops and known as for pressing consideration, notably within the Himalayan area. Local weather change has affected crop manufacturing, resulting in a decline in apple manufacturing.

The Chief Engineer addressed issues about ingesting water shortages, noting that whereas there is no such thing as a present shortage of water in a broader perspective, he acknowledged the severity of the scenario, pointing to the low gauge at Sangam in August final 12 months.

He expressed hope for reduction with potential snowfall within the greater reaches within the subsequent 15 to twenty days. The discount in ingesting water provide is attributed to local weather modifications, evident within the valley’s driest September and second-highest temperature since 1934. Environmentalist Ajaz Ahmad emphasised the affect of local weather change, citing a file day temperature of 34 levels Celsius in 2023.

He highlighted adversarial results on crops and known as for pressing consideration to local weather change points within the Himalayan area, the place 60 % lacks climate stations, emphasizing the necessity for complete research of climate and local weather.

The affect of the dry spell is already seen on the bottom in Kashmir, notably in Pulwama district,

There was a depletion of great water sources, together with the famend Aripal Spring in Tral and Bulbul Spring in Newa Pulwama. The Aripal Spring, a significant ingesting water supply for a number of schemes, has fully dried up, inflicting water shortage in varied areas.

The Fisheries Division needed to relocate its fish farm close to Aripal Spring because of the water supply drying up. Bulbul Spring, supporting a water provide scheme for 4 many years, has additionally dried up, resulting in shortages in a number of villages.

On this scenario, authorities have deployed tankers to provide water to affected villages, emphasizing the necessity for proactive measures to forestall additional escalation of the disaster.

A prayer cry for snow

In response to those difficult circumstances, farmers like Abdul Ahad Khan and 1000’s extra flip to prayers, echoing throughout the Kashmir valley. These prayers, fervently held for snowfall, witness huge participation, reflecting the collective concern for the area’s water sources.

In Anantnag’s Jamia Masjid, a mess of worshippers gathered for prayers fervently looking for the blessing of snowfall. Right here, a Moulana emphasised the indispensable nature of snowfall for Kashmir’s sustenance. “I’m a farmer myself, and I do know the losses we have now incurred over the last 4 years are immense. The tourism trade could also be struggling, however they’ll earn through the summer season months. Nonetheless, if snowfall doesn’t happen throughout Chillai Kalan, we are going to undergo for the entire 12 months,” the cleric addressed the huge gathering.

Devotees prolonged their prayers on the Khanqah of the native saint Hazrat Baba Hyder Reshi within the coronary heart of Anantnag city, imploring Allah for the much-needed snowfall.

Highlighting the pressing want for precipitation, the official confused, “Our floor water sources usually are not getting recharged within the absence of snowfall and rainfall, so precipitation at this juncture is essential to replenish our sources effectively upfront for the approaching months.”

Within the context of the normal Kashmiri winter, divided into three elements, the preliminary forty days referred to as Chilla Kalan maintain immense significance. Throughout this era, the dearth of snowfall carries profound implications. The chilly wind causes the moisture within the vapor-water to freeze, leading to intense chilly, known as Kath Kosh. Icicles embellish the caves of the roofs, making a picturesque winter panorama. Nonetheless, the present climate circumstances, marked by the shortage of snowfall, deviate from these typical options of peak Kashmir winter.

Some consultants view the Valley’s naked hillsides as indicative of adjusting world climate patterns impacting the Himalayan area. Environmentalist Nafees Hassan acknowledges the present scenario as a harbinger of a worsening local weather, whereas local weather change researcher Professor (Dr.) Shakil A Romshoo highlights the correlation between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and winter precipitation in Kashmir. The detrimental NAO throughout December 2023 and the expected strongly detrimental NAO for January 2024 contribute to very low snowfall throughout this winter.

The shortage of snowfall not solely impacts native farmers, as talked about by Abdul Ahad Khan, however it additionally dampens hopes for winter tourism within the Valley. Well-liked locations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam witness a decline in vacationer footfall throughout Chilla Kalan. Gulmarg, a premier ski resort, has been unable to open its slopes, impacting the tourism trade. Regardless of efforts to remodel Sonamarg right into a hub for winter sports activities fanatics, the absence of snowfall delays the internet hosting of those actions.

The general decline in vacationer exercise at these locations, in distinction to their typical bustling ambiance throughout Chilla Kalan, displays the far-reaching penalties of the present climate circumstances on varied sectors, from agriculture to tourism.

Local weather consultants hyperlink the climate shifts in Kashmir to broader local weather change and world warming, warning of cascading impacts on the area’s water sources and agriculture. “We have now witnessed in the previous couple of years that the winter interval has shortened because of world warming,” acknowledged Mukhtar Ahmed, head of the Indian Meteorological Division’s Kashmir workplace. “It’s not good for this place or, for that matter, anyplace, because it adversely impacts a number of sectors, be it hydroelectric energy technology, tourism, or agriculture.”

The stunningly stunning Himalayan area of Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, claims the disputed area in its entirety.

Current affirmation by local weather scientists that 2023 was the most well liked 12 months on file raises issues. Projections point out that January will likely be so heat {that a} 12-month interval will exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold, a goal set on the 2015 Paris local weather talks to avert the worst penalties of local weather change.

Kashmir’s winter historically includes three elements, with Chillai Kalan being the coldest 40-day interval beginning in late December. The chance of snowfall is highest throughout this section, essential for recharging the area’s glaciers that maintain water sources for agriculture and horticulture, the mainstays of Kashmir’s economic system, as felt by Abdul Ahad Khan, who has been farming for almost 5 many years.

Regardless of this significance, the area has witnessed distressing environmental fragility. Villagers, closely reliant on glacial runoff for water, face challenges as farmers like Ahad Khan, depending on winter precipitation for agriculture, categorical their misery. In response to water shortage, some farmers have resorted to changing water-intensive paddy fields to fruit orchards.

The huge temperature fluctuations have given rise to a surge in well being points, notably respiratory issues affecting many residents. Energy cuts, a longstanding disaster regardless of huge hydroelectric potential, additional disrupt day by day life, intensifying the sense of gloom and winter stillness within the area.

Regardless of these challenges, tens of 1000’s of primarily Indian guests flock to Kashmir in winter to witness the snow and go to its hill stations and the principle metropolis of Srinagar. Nonetheless, the dry spell has prompted 1000’s of Muslims in a number of elements of the area to supply particular congregational prayers on Fridays, looking for divine intervention to finish the drought.

“We face misery and illness on this dry spell,” stated Abdul Ahad, a neighborhood resident who participated in a prayer assembly in Anantnag’s Bijbehara. “All the scenario is saddening, and I really feel individuals don’t notice the depth of the scenario. The governments have finished minimal for the farmers of Kashmir. However however, we’re trustworthy individuals, and the prayers we’re holding throughout Kashmir will likely be answered.”

His phrases echo the emotions of many within the area, emphasizing the importance of religion and collective prayers amidst the challenges confronted by the farming group and the broader populace.

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