Cold weather affects life in several Tarai districtsDaily wage earners, children and senior citizens are hardest hit.
Tulasa Chaudhary, 56, of Butwal Sub-metropolitan City Ward No. 17 in Rupandehi has been housebound for the past four days due to a plunge in temperatures. A vegetable seller, she moves around the city selling the produce from her field.
“The past few days have been very difficult for me. The cold wave has made it difficult for me to go about my daily work. It’s hard to preserve my vegetables too,” she said.
Hawkers generally go from street to street in the morning to sell vegetables but the streets have been empty of hawkers in Butwal of late due to the cold wave.
Rupandehi, a Tarai district in Lumbini Province, has not received sunshine for the past four days, according to local residents. Human movement in the marketplaces and even the traffic flow in the streets have significantly decreased.
The cold wave has affected everyone but it’s the daily wage earners like Chaudhary who have been hit the hardest.
Sharada Tharu of Butwal says she is worried about managing her daily expenses since it’s getting difficult for her to go out in the morning to sell vegetables.
“I sell vegetables door-to-door but the past few days have seen a thick blanket of fog in the morning,” said Tharu. “It’s difficult to go out in the morning but I am braving the cold for now. If the cold wave continues, I may not be able to step out.”
Cold wave is a weather condition with a rapid fall in temperature due to a lack of sunshine, dense fog and cold wind. Districts across the Tarai region are affected by the cold wave every year.
Patients with special medical needs are also hit hard by the increasingly cold weather in the area.
“I have to provide special care to my elderly father-in-law, an asthma patient. The cold is cruel to patients like him,” said Dharmikala Chaudhary of Kohalpur-2 in Banke district. She too has not been able to venture out of her house for the past few days due to the cold wave.
In Nepalgunj, business activities have come to a standstill, which has pushed many wage earners into difficult times.
“I haven’t been able to find any work in the past two days,” said Jogendra Khatri, who ekes out a living as a porter in BP Chowk, Nepalgunj. “So many of us have been jobless with no alternate source of income.”
Various district administrations and local units have started distributing warm clothes and firewoods to the impoverished people. The district administration office in Baridaya has distributed 50 blankets to elderly people and postpartum mothers. Chief District Officer Liladhar Adhikari said the district administration released Rs 1 million budget as disaster management to eight local units in the district in light of this year’s cold wave.
In Kapilvastu, marketplaces and government offices on Tuesday wore a deserted look due to the biting cold. According to Ramu Regmi, an officer at Ramnagar field unit of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Tuesday was the coldest day in Kapilvastu this year.
“The minimum temperature was recorded at eight degree Celsius on Tuesday. The sky might not open up for the next few days,” said Regmi.
Medical professionals advise people to stay indoors to avoid catching cold-related diseases like pneumonia and viral fever.
“In cold weather, the chances of infants below five years catching pneumonia are very high. Special care should be provided to senior citizens and people with chronic diseases,” said Dr Dinesh Shrestha, the deputy director at Nepalgunj Medical College.
Dharan in Province 1 witnessed dense fog for the first time in 12 years and visibility was reduced to 50 metres on Tuesday morning, according to Akhalesh Chaurasiya, an assistant meteorologist in the Dharan-based Meteorological Forecasting Division.
Geographically, Dharan, which is encircled by hills from three sides and connected to Chhar Koshe forest in Tarai, is listed as a low fog area.
“Cold waves are common in Tarai during this season. The dense fog in Dharan is mainly due to the western low-pressure system,” said Chaurasiya.
According to him, the minimum temperature was recorded at 14.4 degree Celsius in Dharan on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, normal life in Province 2 has also been affected due to the cold wave since the last two days. But authorities have done nothing for impoverished households who are facing extreme cold weather conditions.
(With inputs from our local correspondents)