By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, January 27: With the Tibetan New Year just two weeks away and the Indian festival of Lohri which marks end of winter, already past, local residents here worry that this north Indian hilltown has still not received its first snowfall and will face acute water shortage in summer.
With the Tibetan New Year (Losar) approaching on February 9 and Lhori festival, considered as the end of the peak winter, already past the local resident fear shortage of water due to the lack of snowfall.
Much to dismay of the local residents and the tourists alike, this winter has not received even a flake of snow which would have covered the mountains by this time of the year usually.
According to the Shimla Agricultural and Meteorological Centre (SAMC), Dharamshala this year received around 90 percent less rain and snowfall compared to last year.
“This year’s weak and lack of western disturbance has dented the amount of snowfall the region has received. We are expecting rain and light snowfall from midnight of January 28th. However, it is going to be only moderate and not heavy snowfall,” Manmohan Singh, Director of SAMC, Shimla, told Phayul.
“McLeod Ganj is expanding very fast and I personally fear that if the weather continues like this, we will feel the pinch during the dry summer season. Year on year, we are receiving less and less snowfall but this year its unusual,” said Rakesh, a local resident of McLeod Ganj.
Tibetan Prime Minister (Sikyong) Dr Lobsang Sangay also expressed his concerns over the unusually dry winter with lack of precipitation before the flag hoisting ceremony on the Republic Day. He said that he fears how the water situation is going to be during the summer season.
The absence of snowfall has also affected tourism, on which the economy of the town depends.
Tenzin Sonam, a Tibetan shopkeeper in McLeod Ganj, complains that business this winter has been very poor. “Usually by this time of the year business picks up as many tourists would come to experience the winter from the plains. But this year we have not seen much people coming here.”
A group of tourists who had come to experience snow said that they were disappointed.