SRINAGAR: At least seven people, including two Army porters, died as Kashmir witnessed the first heavy snowfall of the season on Thursday. Kashmir remains cut off from the rest of the country due to accumulation of snow on the main Srinagar-Jammu highway. However, officials said that air traffic resumed on Friday afternoon. Many power towers and electric poles have got buried under snow.
As per experts, the heavy snowfall was not only early this time, but also untimely. According to Qazi Hashmat, Chief Engineer Electric Supplies of Kashmir, efforts were being made to restore electric supply to emergency units, especially hospitals.
Due to heavy snowfall, scores of trees have been uprooted, leading to damage to electric supply wires and poles. While restoration work and snow clearance operations are on, residents of Srinagar allege that the pace of work is very slow and is not being properly monitored by the authorities.
With heavy downpour followed by snowfall, dozens of localities have got submerged. Srinagar Municipal Corporation and other wings of government bodies could not go for dewatering operation as electric supply remained disrupted.
Meanwhile, the authorities have failed to restore electric supply even as the there was a power cut for 72 hours in most of places.
While Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, is looking after post-snowfall relief operations, Girish Chandra Murmu, newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is presently in New Delhi.
A senior officer looking after restoration work of roads in the valley told The Sunday Guardian that around 90% of the area in the entire valley remains cut off from the rest of the country. Showkat Aijaz, Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, said that though they have removed the snow from the main roads of the district, the link roads to most of the villages are yet to be cleared.
According to some reports, due to heavy snow, many forward bunkers of Army and paramilitary have got buried.
The early snow has wrecked havoc in the apple orchards as till now many varieties of apples are yet to be plucked, especially in Shopian district. Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, Director Horticulture Kashmir, told The Sunday Guardian that he has already dispatched officials to the affected districts, especially in South Kashmir, to assess the losses as a majority of the orchards have got damaged. He said that the most affected areas are Kupwara, Sopore in North Kashmir and Shopian and Kulgam districts in South Kashmir.