'Unusual' Weather Pattern In Kashmir Worries Locals, Experts

7 June 2015
Greater Kashmir
Haroon Mirani

Srinagar: With rainfall in June bringing down temperatures across Kashmir, the unusual weather pattern around is turning into a cause of worry for people and experts alike. Experts are attributing 'wintry weather' in the Valley to worsening effects of climate change. Of 28 indicators on which scientists base their calculation to show climate change, Kashmir fulfills only 19. 'There is no doubt that climate change is hitting Kashmir,' said Shakil A Romshoo, Head of the Earth Sciences department at Kashmir University here. 'Excess rain, cooler summer temperature, rising winter temperature, rising number of hailstorms and other such indicators are more than evident here. The question remains are we ready to handle it.' Romsho said sooner the government takes the issue seriously, better it is. 'Kashmir is one of the most vulnerable places due to its geographic location. A slight fluctuation in average temperature will bring major changes,' said Romsho. 'It is not only going to affect our livelihood like agriculture and tourism, but also increase problems like water scarcity at many places.' Farmers are already feeling the heat due to freaky weather of 2015. 'Our apple crop is almost 50 percent damaged while almonds have been completely wiped off as rains and hailstorm lashed Kashmir right from the time of flowering,' said Abdus Salam, a farmer from South Kashmir. 'Secondly, the plunging temperature and wet weather makes our fruit plants susceptible to diseases like scab and we have to spend extra amount to spray them with fungicides and insecticides more frequently. For 50 percent less crop we have to spend 200 percent more.' Officials at Horticulture department also present a gloomy picture. 'We won't say almond is completely destroyed, but it has been hit badly,' said P K Sharma, Director Horticulture Kashmir. 'On one hand we are assessing the damage and on the other trying to help farmers by expert counseling and compensation.' Sharma too attributed the cause to climate change but raised hands when asked whether government has formulated any action at local level. 'This is a huge issue at national and international level. At local level we have not done anything to mitigate problems,' said Sharma. Negating the notion that nothing can be done at local level, Romsho said that local efforts are equally important. 'Apart from international and national levels, we have to fight it at local level too. For example go for massive afforestation to decrease the amount of green house gases in atmosphere,' said Romsho. The major local factors affecting climate in Kashmir include inefficient use of charcoal, increased number of vehicles, deforestation, polluting cement plants and brick kilns. 'These factors are responsible for increasing particulate matter and soot level in our local environment to dangerous levels. It goes everywhere from our lungs to glaciers and nowhere it leaves a positive impact,' said Romsho. 'We can tackle these issues if some hard steps are taken. For example building efficient public transport system can take away thousands of private vehicles from roads.' Stringent norms for cement plants and modernizing brick kilns have been demanded too. 'Climate change is a problem which we cannot reverse but we can decrease its impact,' said Romsho. Local Meteorological office Director Sonam Lotus said weather has been on cooler side. 'Going by our record, not only June but weather of entire year has been on cooler side than the previous year,' said Lotus. 'There are rains at frequent intervals which have been bringing down the temperature.' With 127 years of weather data at its back, Romsho said wet days are increasing and the frequent rainfall is its confirmation. In March alone, according to Lotus, Kashmir received a record rainfall. Romsho said continuous chill is not a problem, but 'what comes next' should be a matter of concern. '2014 was the hottest year in our records and as July approaches, 2015 may well be another record breaking hot year too,' said Romsho. 'Secondly our ground is super saturated with water and even half the amount of rainfall of the previous year can bring the floods in low level areas.'