Unseasonal snowfall in Chenab Valley

Nomadic families in distress; admin issues advisory to postpone movement till May 4
Unseasonal snowfall in Chenab Valley
GK Photo

Bhaderwah, Apr 28: Unseasonal snowfall in the higher reaches of Chenab Valley coupled with strong winds resulting in extreme cold wave conditions since last week has left hundreds of nomadic families in distress.

These nomadic families have been compelled to halt their onward journey along with their livestock amidst snow filled meadows and slopes.

The cold wave conditions have engulfed the upper reaches of Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban districts, triggering panic among the nomads who have just moved towards high altitude meadows for their bi-annual migration from the plains.

Officials said fresh snowfall was reported in Kailash Mountain Range, Kainthi, Padri Gali, Bhaal Padri, Seoj, Shankh Padar, Rishi Dal, Gau Peeda, Gan Thak, Khanni Top, Guldanda, Chattar Galla, and Asha Pati Glacier surrounding Bhaderwah Valley since Monday night.

The unseasonal snowfall was also reported from Braid Bal, Nehyed Chilly, Sharonth Dhar, Katardhar, Kainthi, Laloo Paani, Kaljugasar, Duggan Top, Goha, and Sinthan Top besides the high altitude meadows of Gandoh.

These high altitude and vast grazing meadows remain inhabited by the Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes during summers.

However, due to harsh weather conditions and unseasonal snowfall which covered the otherwise green meadows under thick blanket of snow, hundreds of tribal families heading towards their summer abode have got stuck either on the roadsides or in the snow-filled mountains in different parts of Chenab Valley.

They are surviving under the open sky with their cattle and toddlers without fodder.

These nomads said that they had lost dozens of goats after they got trapped in a snowstorm continuously for one week from Sarthal to Guldanda area.

“Due to inclement weather conditions and repeated spells of snowfall in higher reaches, we have got stuck in a snowstorm at Chattergalla Pass with our sheep and goats in open on the road sides without food and fodder,” said Nizamuddin, a nomadic Bakerwal. “In last five days, I lost nearly two dozen lambs and goats. I am 55-years-old and have been moving in these hills since childhood. I have never seen such heavy snowfall during this time of year. We are in a fix and unable to decide whether to stay back or go ahead.”

Hanifa, 52, said that though they were used to surviving in harsh conditions, the past week was the most frightening time of her life.

“We got stuck for five days in snow with very little food and no fodder for our livestock. I lost 20 goats in three days due to starvation. Hope things will improve now,” she said.

Satish Kumar Gaddi, 55, a shepherd from Chinta, Bhaderwah, said, “Traditionally we used to reach Bhaderwah Valley on the day of Baisakhi festival (April 13) but due to unseasonal and sudden snowfall we got stuck in snow for days at a stretch. We have suffered huge losses. We hope the authorities will come up with some help.”

DC Doda Vishesh Paul Mahajan told Greater Kashmir that all the required help from the district administration would be extended to the nomads.

However, he said that they should postpone their further journey for a few more days in view of harsh weather conditions.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department has predicted spells of rain and snow till May 4 in the entire Chenab Valley.

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