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From Floods to Drought, Kashmir Wrestles With Climate Extremes

Srinagar, Indian administered Kashmir – Sitting in a row because the solar beats down, greater than a dozen males fish from a small peninsula that has emerged alongside the Jhelum, one of many main rivers in Indian Kashmir.

From heavy rains and flash floods earlier this 12 months to a warmth wave in September that noticed temperatures within the Kashmir Valley hit peaks not seen in additional than a century, the impression of the extremes of local weather change are surfacing, typically in surprising locations.

“I had never set foot on the riverbed before. This is the first time all of us are witnessing the lowest water level of the Jhelum,” mentioned Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, an area produce salesman. “People are engaging in various activities on the exposed surface of the river that looked threatening a few months ago.”

Three months in the past, the Jhelum’s banks expanded past its capability as a result of extreme rainfall till the final week of May. The steady rise of the river’s water stage then created panic amongst residents who fearful that the area may see excessive flooding much like summer time 2014 when lots of had been killed and almost one million had been displaced.

Dar mentioned that after the floods in June and July, it was just like the solar was reborn in August and September.

“Rivers, canals and streams have dried up,” he mentioned, including that Kashmir now wants extra rain.

A houseboat that often floats on the water is marooned on the riverbed after a warmth wave decreased the water stage of the Jhelum River on Sept. 22, 2023.

The absence of rainfall and the warmth wave induced a shortage of water in several components of the valley, together with some areas of the capital metropolis, Srinagar. People from a number of villages via the Kashmir Valley collected contaminated water to drink.

“Our area already faces [a] shortage of drinking water, but this year, our problem multiplied as we faced [an] acute water shortage. We collected contaminated water from a stream and utilized it for consumption,” Farooq Ahmad, a resident of the Nasirpora space of Budam district, advised VOA.

“The water from the stream was filtered and later on boiled so that we can consume it,” he mentioned, including that villagers requested the Jal Shakti Department – a authorities company that ensures a clear water provide for ingesting and irrigation functions – to ship water tankers to the village. “But no one cared.”

In a latest interview with the English every day newspaper Greater Kashmir, Ashok Kumar Gandotra, chief engineer of the Jal Shakti Department, admitted that native residents are dealing with a ingesting water disaster.

“Most of the sources, including the mighty River Jhelum, have almost dried up,” Gandotra mentioned. “People are facing a crisis. When there is a problem in the source, how can there be no problem?” he mentioned, including that the division is making an attempt to fulfill the requirement by supplying water via tankers the place there may be acute storage.

Aijaz Rasool, an environmentalist, attributes the rise in temperature within the Himalayan area to local weather change and international warming. He famous that in September, the Kashmir Valley recorded its second hottest day for that month in 132 years, when the temperature rose to 34.2 levels Celsius on September 12. Average temperatures in September are sometimes between 24 and 28 levels Celsius.

“Kashmir is located between two Himalayan ranges – the Karakoram on the Afghanistan side and the Hindukush on the Indian side – and both regions are experiencing the impact of climate change and global warming,” Rasool advised VOA. “Glaciers are melting, rivers and streams are drying up, and our water reservoirs are getting depleted. As a result, our valley is suffering on multiple fronts.”

Rasool mentioned developed and creating nations should discover a technique to collaborate to fight local weather change and international warming. The 2015 Paris Agreement set a purpose to restrict the rise of worldwide temperatures to 1.5 levels Celsius. According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, temperatures between June and August of this 12 months had been the most well liked three months ever recorded.

Residents of the Nasirpora area of Budgam district in central Kashmir transport drinking water from a nearby village following the acute water shortage. Residents of the Nasirpora space of Budgam district in central Kashmir transport ingesting water from a close-by village following the acute water scarcity.

“As far as our region is concerned, each individual has to play a role, along with the government, to save and conserve our water bodies such as lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams, whose hydrological cycle is presently disturbed,” Rasool mentioned. “Jhelum today no longer poses the flood risk it did in 2014,” Rasool mentioned, mentioning that present water ranges have reached a 70-year low.

Kashmir’s warmth wave has additionally broken the horticultural and agricultural sectors, particularly money crops akin to apples and saffron, thought-about the spine of Jammu and Kashmir’s economic system.

Khurshid Malik, an apple dealer and farmer, advised VOA that the drought ruined greater than half of his crops. Apples want temperatures to remain between 20 to 30 levels Celsius with a view to preserve good coloration and measurement.

A farmer displays apples with scab disease in the Lolipora area of Budgam district in the Kashmir Valley. A farmer shows apples with scab illness within the Lolipora space of Budgam district within the Kashmir Valley.

“If the temperature crosses 30 degrees Celsius, rainfall is a must, otherwise the apples will catch different kinds of diseases, including scab, and the fruit size will be small,” Malik mentioned. “I believe more than 50% of the apple crop has got damaged, which surely will impact the livelihood of many people.”

Sonam Lotus, director of the Meteorological Department of Jammu and Kashmir, advised VOA that whereas the warmth wave lasted for 15 days till September 20, aid is on the horizon.

“The lower regions also received rain yesterday, and it is expected that the temperature will decrease in the coming days,” he mentioned.