Last weekend’s untimely snowfall in Kashmir was one of wonderment and despair. As beautiful snowy photographs of the Valley took the social media in awe, the common people of Kashmir ran to stock up on their food supplies; farmers cried, watching helplessly as the snow slowly and steadily destroyed their crops and apple orchards. These erratic weather conditions have become a new normal for the Valley.
Speaking to The Policy Times, Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, Kashmir’s renowned environmentalist, said “we cannot say that there is extreme-winter like conditions yet, but yes erratic weather conditions have taken over Kashmir. The 2017-2018 winter seasons had only one snowfall and little to no rainfall. It was a very dry winter. In the past years, there have been snowfalls at the end of November.”
He said that this season’s untimely snowfall had affected the agriculture and the fruit growers. “Because of the climate change, most of the farmers had shifted to horticulture but they have been affected by the snowfall”, he added.
“Kashmir doesn’t have a policy in place to tackle climate change. To date, there have been no concrete efforts by the state government or stakeholder agencies”.
The higher elevated regions such as Shopian and Kulgam were the most affected.
The government needs to rise to the occasion and address these erratic weather patterns. The unusual weather is becoming more frequent. In 2004, there was snowfall in the month of May and in 2014, late April.
Mr. Shakil said we need to be cautious and eventually prepare from more drastic weather changes. Policies and strategies cannot be done or implemented overnight. It has to be looked into and supported by the information, research, involving various people and agencies. It needs a long-term continuous effort. Better late than never but it needs an immediate start. The national government also has a role to play.
Climate change is a growing threat for Kashmir. It poses significant environmental and economic challenges