Besides aesthetic appeal, snow is somewhat an inseparable part of our culture and parlance. Our winter is incomplete and dull without the snow. It is the crown of our winter. We have many adages, proverbs and folk songs in Kashmiri language which signify sheen (Snow) in different contexts. Like - Wandeh Tchali Sheen Gali Beyye Yee Bahar (winter will go, snow will melt, and the spring will come back). Many horrendous folktales of Kashmiri jargon and characters of fantasy world are attributed to our snow. Thus, snow is more than a form of precipitation for Kashmiri people. Since we have an agro based economy in our valley, so, snow is vitally important for our agricultural activities, because snow mothers most of our streams, rivers and rivulets during the spring and the summer seasons.
Adequate and sufficient snowfall ensures abundant flow of water in perennial and seasonal water bodies of Kashmir valley. Though our valley is known for its sweet and crystal clear water, across the globe, but, of late, we have had witnessed qualitative and quantitative degradation and deterioration of our water bodies. Last year, most of the agriculturalists of Kashmir valley failed to grow paddy in their farmlands, because scanty snowfall during the last winter forced the paddy growers to sow alternate crops in their paddy fields, which require little or no water. Inadequate snowfall not only hampers our agricultural activities but causes serious drinking water issues to the valleyites.
This winter, the scenario is no more different. Our high altitude hill stations and mountain peaks are bereft of ample white-cover. We may witness another year of drought, if there is insufficient and meager snowfall during the winter. Exiguous and sparse snowfall not only reduces our agricultural production, but it takes toll of our glacial wealth rapidly and alarmingly. Glaciers are treasure houses of water for our future generations. Our glaciers have suffered drastically during the last few decades. According to scientific surveys and researches carried out in different universities and institutions of high repute, our glaciers like Kolahoi, Machoi Thajiwas, Shafat and other Himalayan solid water reservoirs are receding at a perturbing rate. Most of these glaciers have almost dwindled by 18% or more.
Once known for its rich water resources, our valley is going through acute hydrological crisis. Many seasonal ponds and streams have dried up. It has not only disrupted our agricultural activities very badly, but has also hit our hydro-electricity production terribly. Decreasing water levels in our major rivers and rivulets, is one of the potential causes of our winter power woes. Last year, our early and mid Spring was unpleasantly warm, which ruined our vegetable cultivation severely. Global warming has expanded its wings upon our valley. The black shadow of the ominous climatic calamity has darkened our green valley.
Our insensitivity and callousness will worsen the situation for sure. We pay less heed towards our climatic consciousness and responsibilities. Loot of green gold goes unabated in our part of the globe. Somewhere, smugglers plunder the green wealth, and somewhere, apathy of our official machinery is proving the last nail in the coffin. Our jungles have immensely suffered during last two decades, and consequently, our fragile climate has gone through immense damage and devastation. We are on the verge of a climatic catastrophe, but, agonizingly, our people hardly give a thought to it. We don't consider it any matter of concern.
Usage of polythene bags and other items is witnessing a surge in our valley. Ironically, we don't consider it a threat to our planet and survival. We are either ignorant about the perils of the polythene or complacent enough to sleep insouciantly. Despite having degrees and diplomas to our credit, we proudly carry colorful polythene bags in our hands. Our lanes, by-lanes and roads have become abode to the deadly product. Polythene and other plastic waste is seen scattered around our surroundings. A few years back, it was considered an urban issue, but the menace has engulfed our villages very awfully.
The land of Tangas (Horse driven carts) releases huge puffs of smoke, carbon dioxide and other obnoxious gases, into the atmosphere. Yes, we have been responsible for exceedingly high volumes of pollutants and poisonous gases. Emission of greenhouse gases has turned our valley into a concentration chamber. According to stats available with the Union Government of India, under national family health survey-5 - a whoophing 23.7 % of Jammu and Kashmir residents have their own personal cars, which places Jammu and Kashmir at number one spot in the entire Northern India and at number three spot in the whole country. Substantial automobile exhaust has added voluminous amounts of toxic gases into our already frangible environment. Thus, the excessive consumption of fossil fuels is jeopardizing our susceptible environment.
Fiddling with environment is sure to make us pay heavily. According to UN secretary general - Antonio Guterres: “South Asian people are 15 times more likely to die from climate impact." Droughts, floods, heat waves and other climatic disasters have become the fate of South Asian nations. Climate impact is emerging as a major threat to the survival of man on the planet. Our valley has begun to witness the impact of local and global climatic impact. Erratic and scanty snowfall owes its roots to the climatic change. Snow has been our companion for centuries together, but, if we won't wake up and introspect our ways, our progeny may have to visit Europe or Siberia to have a glimpse of the snow.
(Author is Teacher and a Columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com)