Monday, October 21, 2013

Potato Farmer in Sabu Village, Ladakh tells Morup and me about the Flood Year.

  Upto 1974, the weather was severe. It was minus 30 and minus 34. From 1990, there were no more cold winters, it became minus twenty and minus twenty two or minus twenty five for only two or three days. The usual average was minus 19 or minus 20. Earlier there was lots of snowfall. There was one or one and half feet snow in the fields. This would remain until the end of March, after which it would melt. Now, snow fall is five inches, and the next day it melts. Rain falls now. There is normal rainfall, summer time for one or two hours, during July and August, occasionally heavy.

Mild winter, Spring is severe for the last five or six years. February and March get very cold. Spring has become cold and dry. There is snowfall in the hills,  in winter, it freezes.

This was what Morup and I were told by a potato farmer in Sabu village. In the flood year, till 23rd of June, snow didnt melt. Then suddenly it was hot.
And the water melted rapidly. He has a  water tank below ground, which is run with a motor. On the 23rd of June, in the flood year, it was empty. The tank lies 9 feet below ground.

After 23rd of June, the underground water,  9 feet below, suddenly became full, there was excess water. With the help of the motor the water was pumped out.
On 5th August, a thunderbolt never seen, lightening was so bright that a needle dropped on the floor could be found.
The flood came from the Manali road side. At two minutes to midnight- strong wind Khdddddddd loud noise, water falling through the chimney. the farmer came into the garden to collect a container, and was knee deep in water. Behind the house, the resort he was building for tourists was swallowed up in a river of water. The two Nepalis looking after the resort were lost.
In 1969, there was a cloudburst in Nimu, and in 1974 in Piang village.
The Government did not recompense for commercial losses, but they removed the silt, and gave one lakh rupees for repairs to the domestic portion of his home.

Ofcourse, this is climate change, according to the farmer. There is very little ice now. In 1940s and 1950s, the glacier was covered totally. The reasons for the melt down are large green house gas effects, population growth and increasing number of vehicles in Ladakh because of the perennial army presence, tourists, and the increased consumerism among Ladakhis themselves.
The Nallas no longer have clean water, since the local community as well as migrant laborers are careless and pollute the waters. With the flood, Nallas were destroyed, but the Government repaired them. For drinking purposes, the Government has dug hand pumps.
Former president Abdul Kalam had adopted Sabu, but they recieved little or no assistance from that head. Ladakh Autonomous Council in synchrony with the J and K government and the Centre acted very quickly.
March April May are the sowing seasons, and given the shortage of water, there is control of water during this time by the Chorspon method. Four people are chosen, each is sent out to each house, and told on the day the water will come to their field.  It is a very tightly regulated system, where the commons (in this case water) is controlled by representatives.

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