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Protests rise against winter schools as Kashmir Valley shivers

Wednesday December 22, 2010 04:15:09 PM, IANS

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Srinagar: The relentless cold wave and sub-zero temperatures have left thousands of students in the Kashmir Valley literally shivering in their classrooms, with protests rising against the government's decision to keep schools open during the winter.

The minimum temperature plunged to minus 5.4 degree Celsius in Srinagar Wednesday and the meteorological department has warned that it could fall further in the coming days.

Schools have been ordered to start winter classes this year in order to make up for the lost working days. The unrest in the Valley that began June 11 had forced them to close down for over four months.

Over 2.5 lakh students in classes 9-12, who have been asked to continue classes, now find themselves forced to face the harsh cold.

Students from at least three private schools assembled at the Press Enclave in Srinagar Tuesday to protest the lack of adequate heating arrangements inside their classrooms.

Ruling National Conference (NC) provincial president Ali Muhammad Dar Wednesday appealed to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to reconsider the decision.

"We appeal the chief minister to look into the issue personally as the students are suffering," Dar said.

A local lawyer has also filed a public suit urging the high court to ask the government to provide necessary heating facilities to the students in schools or revoke the decision to keep them open in winter.

"Government has made it mandatory for winter schools in the Valley to make adequate heating facilties," an education department official said.

He said the department would carry out surprise inspections of schools to ensure that heating arrangements are sufficient.

The news from the weather office is not very good either, at least for the coming few days. The clear night skies are likely to further bring the temperatures down.

"The minimum temperature was minus 5.4 degrees Celsius in Srinagar Wednesday. It was minus 9.6 in Leh and minus 10.6 in Kargil towns," M.S. Wani, assistant meteorologist, said.

In Pahalgam it was minus 5.6 while Gulmarg was at minus 5 Wednesday.

Wani said the present weather conditions would continue for a few more days.

Most of the snow and rain in the Valley during the winter months owes itself to western disturbances - the Caspian Sea storms derived from the Westerlies - that enter the region from the Afghanistan-Pakistan side.

"As of now, we do not have any such build-up in our vicinity, which means temperatures could fall further in the coming days," the official said.






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