Monday, January 18, 2010

Snow-starved Kashmir may turn into desert

Experts predict horticultural and agricultural disaster
Srinagar, Jan 18: In what is certainly an expression of frustration and desperation, people in Kashmir are now wondering if Valley is all set to turn into a desert as snowfall continues to evade the Valley. Even when there are no similarities between Kashmir and a desert, the lack of snowfall in the Valley is forcing people here to look down south-west for metaphors to describe the “climactic disaster’ they feel is unfolding on the Valley.The intolerable dry spell in Kashmir, with mountains as well as plains dying to kiss the white bride of winter - snow, the Valley seems loosing its climate to various influences and disturbances across the globe. Global warming or no global warming - drastic climatic change is certainly evident in this part of the world as the Valley continues to long for snow even in the middle of the winter season while fluctuating temperatures only exacerbate the scares of a disastrous year ahead. The dry spell during this time of the year when entire Valley should ideally have been covered under heaps of snow is certainly very scary for it is the snow that lends Kashmir its majestic charm; without it brooks and streams will stop roaring, ponds and springs will fry up and plight of already dying rivers and lakes will only worsen and their march towards sure death will be catalyzed. If the weather continues to be like this, its impact on the agriculture and horticulture as well as all other farming activities can only be imagined!While the lack of snow is haunting all and sundry throughout the Valley, people associated with tourism trade, particularly at Gulmarg, are facing the brunt of changed weather conditions as this world-famous ski resort has already witnessed 60 percent downfall in the business this winter.Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ many hoteliers at Gulmarg expressed their fears about economic setbacks this year saying that almost 60 percent bookings this year stand cancelled while the meager number of tourists present in Gulmarg too feel depressed and plan to move out as the ski slopes offer nothing but disappointment with fast receding snow cover. “The Ski slopes at Gulmarg have been exposed at various places and as of now it is neither advisable nor preferred to ski down the slopes. We are planning to move out soon,” Henry, a skier from New Zealand lamented. “It is depressing that there has not been much snow this season even after half of the season is already over. It means great loss. We at Gulmarg pray for snow,” said manager of a local hotel at Gulmarg.But the miseries do not end here alone as the repercussions of this unusual climate change, as seen by climate experts and agriculturalists, are sure to show epidemic signs in the season ahead. B A Khanday, professor and head of the Department of Agronomy, Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) fears a massive reduction in crop yields this year while adding that mustard crop would be the worst hit.Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ Prof Khanday said that the changed weather conditions were suicidal for some of the crops including mustard, oats, peas, etc, while the phenomena would leave drastic impact on the overall yield including fruit production.“While early sown crops and late sown crops including mustard were already facing the brunt of the changed weather conditions, the summer crops too might be impacted badly,” Kanday said adding that the summer would see water scarcity which again threatens not only the crops but the fruit yield as well. “Changed weather conditions were suicidal for some of the crops including mustard, oats, peas, etc, while the phenomena would leave drastic impact on the overall yield including fruit production.”

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