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Summer Or Winter, Kashmir’s Water Woes Continue

by Saifullah Bashir

SRINAGAR: Amid plummeting temperatures in the Valley the water woes have continued to cause problems for the people with water pipes frozen even in the summer capital Srinagar.

Women carrying water pots on their heads in Tangmarg village. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Last week with the end of Chila-i-Kalan—forty-day harshest winter period— the three-decade record of lowest temperature was broken as the mercury plummeted to minus 8.8 in Srinagar.

Srinagarites are facing a plethora of problems due to shortage of water caused by frozen water pipes.

The complaints of water shortage are being received from across Kashmir. In Srinagar, some affected areas include Batamaloo, Khanyar, Baghat, Rambagh, Natipora, Hyderpora, Rawalpora, Dalgate, Nowshera, Qamarwari, Lal Chowk, Saida Kadal and Lal Bazar.

“Our taps are dry from last week due to frozen water pipes. We wake up in the middle of the night to store water but all efforts go in vain. It is an unprecedented situation. I have not witnessed this type of water scarcity in my life,” Asif Nazir a resident of Batamaloo said.

To de-freeze the pipes, people are raising bonfires around water pipes along with installing plastic insulators around pipes. However, these efforts aren’t yielding any results forcing people to look for alternatives.

Hilal Shah, resident of Rajbagh said, “I buy three mineral water bottles for preparing tea and washing my face This is the worst winter I witnessed.”

Chief Engineer Public Health and Engineering Department (PHE) Kashmir Iftikhar Ahmad Wani said, “We have implemented a strategy and have instructed people and workers to keep water pipes as they are till noon. With the rise in temperature, pipes will de-freeze themselves.”

He said there is no dearth of water in main pipes but the interior infrastructure of homes has been frozen.

“We have 120 water tankers in operation out of which 105 are owned by the department while 15 are hired. We are sending these tankers wherever people need them,” he added.

He further added that “only 80 per cent of water is reaching to households due to frozen pipes.”

People of downtown Srinagar who have maintained the tradition of using copper tanks in their houses are not spared by this crisis either.

Scores of people in downtown are seen out with their utensils in search of water from one neighbourhood to the other in these frosty weather conditions.

With severe cold damaging pipes and water motors, the electricians and plumbers are witnessing a rise in business.

“I repair 7-10 damaged motors per day. In the previous month, I repaired around 200 water motors,” said Arsalan a professional electrician.

The repair charges depend upon the type of fault, he added.

Meanwhile, political parties in Kashmir have joined the “concern” bandwagon with many leaders castigating the government’s response.

Waiting in the queue for water at press Enclave Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Monday, February 1, 2021. KL Image

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party’s Provincial President Kashmir Mohammad Ashraf Mir Monday raised “serious” concerns over the water crisis across the Valley especially in Srinagar city due to freezing temperatures.

“The frosty winter has wreaked havoc in the Kashmir division that has resulted in the freezing of various water bodies including Dal Lake. People across the valley especially in Srinagar city are suffering immensely for want of drinking water,” he said, in a statement issued here.

Referring to the lackadaisical approach of Jal Shakti Department (JSD), Mir said that people in the city and other parts of the Valley are grappling immense water shortage.

“We acknowledge that the harsh winter has created serious problems for everyone, even the PHE Department but this is where the administration has to prove its agility and concern for the welfare of people. However, the JSD has taken an easy-going stance over the situation arising due to the plummeting temperatures,” Mir said.

He sought the intervention of the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha regarding the current water crisis across Kashmir: “I humbly request the Lt. Governor JK to take the cognizance of the current situation and direct the concerned Jal Shakti department to take prompt measure like dispatching of water containers to the affected areas mitigating the grave problems faced by the people at large.”

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