Gilgit (ET): After prolonged power cuts, soaring prices and deteriorating law and order situation, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Sunday braced itself for another test after receiving its first snowfall.
The temperatures fell to as low as -12 Celsius in Baltistan, forcing resource-starved people to stay indoors and spend more on heating fuel.
According to Pakistan Meteorological Department, weather in G-B is likely to remain overcast in the coming days, with temperatures expected to fall further.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Ishfaq Alam, a resident of Gilgit, said his entire family remained indoors due to the cold weather. He said the increased cost of firewood and other fuel his family is using to keep them warm is “a burden we will not be able to endure for long”.
In addition to the soaring prices of essential items, there is unavailability of firewood in the markets, mainly due to the government’s inability to ensure supplies, said Saqib, a local businessman. He estimated that a family has to spend between Rs500 to Rs1,000 every day to stay warm. “Burning fuel to stay warm is a necessity of life, we can’t survive without it,” he added.
Naushad Ali, a firewood vendor, said the supply of firewood was restricted this season because the ban on transportation of firewood from Chilas was not lifted. The ban is lifted every year in January to allow transportation of firewood to G-B, he added.
The severe weather conditions have also disrupted flights to Gilgit and Skardu, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, according to officials.