Life gets frozen in GB with falling mercury

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By Sultan Shoab & Taj Nabi Khan

GILGIT-BALTISTAN, Jan 05 (APP):The natural landscape of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the last heaven on earth, where all four seasons of the year could be witnessed in its true natural-state but the prolonged winter season with falling mercury (-02 to -20C) makes life of the residents frozen with a wave of blood curdling chill in the atmosphere of the mountainous region.

When the severe weather conditions bring life to a halt — people forced to stay indoors and use the locally-made wood stoves and stored foods to cope with the harsh winter season. The mountains of the region turn snow-cladded as the area receives heavy snowfall every year during the winter season.

GB is one of the amazing tourist landscapes of Pakistan due to its geography and mesmerizing beauty. The areas is gifted with luxuriantly green cherry, apricot, apple, pears, peach orchards, and streams full of dancing waters, roaring rivers and a landscape full of mountains with snow-covered peaks.

In extreme winter, which last from November to end of March, fire-wood-stoves become a necessity of life. The residents use different types of stoves for cooking and protecting themselves from the cold. But now-a-days, people are worried about keeping themselves warm due to high prices of fire-woods in the area.

In GB, all seasons are very apparent: The spring season is lush green, the summer is hot, the winter is extremely cold, and in autumn, the entire region presents altogether a different and unique shade of golden color.

Quite before the arrival of winter season, the people of GB adopt different methods for storage of food and fuel to cope with the weather that bring down temperature below zero degrees Celsius for several months. One of the methods for preservation of food is known as Nasaloo, in Shina, a major regional language.

As part of the tradition of Nasaloo, households slaughter an animal – yak, goat, sheep or oxen, based on availability and financial status, and hang the meat in an airy, cold, storage, to dry. The dried meat is then cooked during the months of January and February, generally the coldest months in the region. This practice is prevalent across the GB and Chitral region, under different names.

Talking to APP, Nadeem Khan, a resident of Gilgit Konodas said that high price of wood for heating purposes in the market has affected the routine life of the people. He urged the government to take notice of the issue as the area lack LPG and other sources of heating.

Abdul Haleem, a resident of Gilgit, has said that the beauty of GB remains largely unexplored and its hospitality has no match. He, however, said that the government and political representatives should work on provision of basic amenities of life to the people, particularly during in winter season. No doubt, the region is blessed with rich natural resources but it needs proper utilization to facilitate the public, he added.

Atta Ullah, a resident of Tangir Valley and a Lecturer in a local college said that due to lack of alternate energy sources in the area, woods are being used as a source of fuel for heating purposes.

“Consequently, deforestation takes place due to which natural beauty of the area is affected”, he added. He, however, said that it was really boring to stay indoors all the time, therefore, in every winter vacation; I have to spend some time either in Rawalpindi or Lahore to stay away from unfriendly weather conditions of the area.