Liaquat Andrabi’s bakery in Doda town has seen a huge rush over the last nine days. However, sales have not increased for the bakery as the visitors are only putting their mobile phones on charge with the town being without power supply.
The Chenab Valley, comprising Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts, plunged into darkness on February 6 after extensive damage to power lines due to heavy snowfall. People started losing contact as phone batteries went dry and Liaquat (58) then decided to use his generator to charge their phones for free.
“People come to me from far-off places with hope and I do not want them to return in despair as someone maybe ailing at their home,’’ Liaquat said, adding that he purchased nearly a dozen extension cords from the market to get many mobile phones recharged at a time.
Liaquat said that due to space constraints, people leave phones at the bakery and they are marked by slips in order to return them to their owners. The neighbours also seek help to run their water pumps.
While power supply in Ramban and Banihal towns was restored on February 7, it was restored in Batote town on Wednesday evening.
Ashfaq Hussain, a teacher who returned home in Kishtwar on Tuesday evening, missed his morning prayers for the first time in the last 30 years due to the lack of warm water for ablution.
“We are back to stone age, with the entire Chenab Valley plunging into darkness at sunset, said Mansoor Qadir, an activist.
In hospitals, doctors are admitting only emergency cases and discharging others after prescription of medication. “There are no arrangements to keep the wards warm in extreme cold conditions,” said Dr Pervez Wani, Medical Superintendent of the district hospital at Doda. “Though we have a generator set, we cannot run air conditioners and heaters using it,” he said.
The number of surgeries have also seen a dip due to constraints to maintenance of temperature inside operation theatres. “We are operating patients who have an emergency or those which cannot be avoided,” Wani said. While the administration has cleared the main roads in Doda, Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns, the lanes and link roads were still covered under snow, journalist Haq Nawaz Nehru said.
With 1 to 10 ft snow at most places in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts, there were many instances of the children and elderly slipping on the snow and getting injured, said Dajit Pulsar, a school teacher.
Jammu’s Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma said over 75 per cent of the roads in Jammu division have been cleared and the remaining ones will be restored in the next two to three days. He said of the 1,700 km stretch constructed under PMGSY, nearly 1,400 km has been cleared of snow, and of the 1,100 km maintained by the PWD, nearly 808 km has been cleared, he said.
Ninety per cent of the power supply has been restored in Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar, he said, adding that it will be restored within two days in the remaining areas.
Verma said there was adequate supply of ration, LPG, medicines, petrol and other essential commodities in snow-prone areas. Kishtwar Deputy Commis-sioner Angrez Singh said power is likely to be restored in Kishtwar town through a 33 KV line on a temporary basis by Saturday, but it will take more time in remaining areas of the district.