PHE Dept asked to prepare drought action plan
This year, bright sunny days remained the defining feature in the Kashmir valley during the past month as the temperatures remained quite high and caused a premature departure of the region’s harshest winter period.
The day temperature throughout January and for the last few days has been described as “marked high” in the series of weekly reports by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
During the winter’s core period, the mercury touched five to six degrees above the season’s average i.e. 6.3°C in Srinagar and 0.7°C in Gulmarg. The day temperature in Srinagar touched a high of 16.2°C last Saturday, which was 7.3°C higher than the normal, making it one of the warmest February days in the past decade.
The lack of precipitation recorded this winter is the worst in at least last six years as the state received only 4-mm rainfall, a drop of 95 per cent from the normal 97 mm. Moreover, the prolonged dry spell has now entered seventh month.
According to the latest weekly forecast of the IMD, Kashmir will receive no major snowfall in the next week as only isolated precipitation and dry weather forecast has been made in the region.
The absence of a major snow spell throughout winter and lack of its possibility has triggered an alarm of a drought in the region.
The Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, which is tasked at supplying water in the region, has directed its divisions to prepare a drought action plan for the coming months as water resources were depleting.
“If the situation continues to remain like this, we will face scarcity of water everywhere,” Abdul Wahid, Chief Engineer, PHE Department, Kashmir, told Kashmir Post.
He said the rivers and streams were quickly drying up across the region and “even the groundwater was depleting” due to the prolonged dry spell. “If it continues, the situation will get worse,” Wahid said, adding that the irrigation sector would be the worst hit.
He said the department had already initiated “water rationing” and was intermittently releasing the supply to the region’s villages and towns. “Also, the department was preparing a drought action plan, which will be ready within a week. It will look into the possibilities of tapping all water resources, if available,” he added.
Shakil Romshoo, head, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir, said if the lack of precipitation continues further, it would have “serious implications”. He, however, pinned hope on the possibility of rain and snowfall.
“We still have February and March, and the data from previous years suggest that we have good precipitation during these months. There is still hope,” he added.
Water scarcity threat
If the situation prevails, we will face water scarcity. The rivers and streams are quickly drying up across the region. Even the groundwater is depleting due to the prolonged dry spell. The department is preparing a drought action plan, which will be ready in a week. Abdul Wahid, chief engineer, PHE department, Kashmir