Manzoor Ahmed has been running a hotel in the Indian-administered Kashmir city of Gulmarg for 17 years. He said, ‘This is the first time in the history of last 17 years that I have seen winter without snowfall. Now the mountains are supposed to be white with snow. But the mountains are gray and faded.’
He referred to the incident as ‘unprecedented’ to the British media BBC. The 50-year-old businessman said that tourists are returning disappointed. Many of his hotel rooms are now empty.
Every year in winter thousands of tourists from different parts of the world visit Kashmir just to witness the snowfall. Many people like to ski on snow. But due to lack of snow this year, the tourism industry is at risk. According to local officials, about 1 lakh tourists came to Kashmir last January. This year the number has dropped to less than half.
Experts say the lack of snow in Kashmir will have a severe impact on the region’s economy. Because about 7 percent of Kashmir’s GDP comes from its tourism sector. Apart from this, agriculture and water supply will also be affected. Because less snowfall is likely to deplete groundwater reserves.
Environmentalists say climate change is having a major impact on the region. Extreme weather conditions prevail in both winter and summer. The Jammu and Kashmir Meteorological Department said the region recorded 79 per cent rainfall deficit last December and 100 per cent deficit in January.
According to the American media New York Times, the city of Gulmarg in Kashmir is crowded with thousands of skiers during the winter season. The city’s 8500 feet high slopes are usually covered with snow from December to March. But there is no snow in Gulmarg this year. Skiers are returning disappointed.
65-year-old ski instructor Ishfaq Ahmed Malik said, ‘Such a scene cannot be imagined in January. I have never seen Gulmarg without snow in my lifetime. This is unprecedented.’