No Snow Triggers Water Worries in Kashmir as Tourist Influx Dips
The Kashmir valley is experiencing an unusually dry winter this year, with barely any snowfall recorded so far. This departure from the norm does not augur well for the region’s tourism and water supply.
As per officials, Kashmir would see average snowfall of 130.61 cm in January. However, this year it has not snowed at all so far. Popular destinations like Gulmarg that would be teeming with tourists enjoying snow sports now wear a deserted look.
Data shows tourist arrivals have declined by 60% compared to last year due to lack of snow. Kashmir’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism which contributes around 8% to its GDP. The sector was showing signs of recovery post-2019 but is hit again.
The absence of snow has disrupted local businesses relying on winter tourism. Places like ski resorts have been the worst affected due to nil snowfall. Locals associated with tourism fear massive losses if the dry weather persists.
Experts attribute the lack of precipitation to rising temperatures and weak western disturbances under the impact of El Nino. El Nino causes anomalous warming of Pacific waters, increasing Mediterranean temperatures and reducing western disturbance activity. This disrupts the pattern of winter rain and snow critical for the mountains.
IMD officials have warned the lack of snowfall could create acute water shortage next summer. Inadequate snow means glaciers won’t be recharged properly and will melt faster. If such weather continues for a few years, it can severely impact Kashmir’s water bodies.
The scarcity of snow stretches beyond Kashmir too. Shimla, Manali and Auli have also not received their share of snow this season. Environmentalists have sounded alarms about the long-term implications of such weather changes.
Kashmir stares at twin challenges – reviving tourism and securing its water supply in the future. The administration needs to devise solutions to help locals tackle the economic and ecological impact. As climate change makes weather patterns erratic, the valley must prepare for the emerging crises.
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