A life-altering harshest 40-day winter spell, known locally as Chillai Kalan, began in the Kashmir region on Friday, as the sub-zero temperature froze parts of many water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake, and water taps, as it set off a cold wave across the State.J&K’s summer capital Srinagar witnessed a minimum temperature of -4.4 degree Celsius on Thursday night. The sub zero temperature resulted in the formation of a sheath of ice on vehicles.In tourist hotspots of Pahalgam and Gulmarg, the minimum temperature hovered around -7.5 degree C and -6 degree C.“There will be no change in the cold wave in the next 24 hours,” said a meteorological official.In Kargil and Leh, the minimum temperature in many parts has dipped to -10 degree C, forcing a large population to shift to dry latrines.Due to the severe cold wave, people in the Valley prefer to start their day very late in the morning. Even shops and markets opened after 10 a.m.People are already resorting to modern as well as traditional modes of heating, which include wood and coal driven heaters and hamams, a facility in houses in the Valley where fire is put beneath the surface to keep rooms warm.The winter spell also results in lower electricity generation in J&K, as the glaciers in upper reaches turn into mountains of ice and the water discharge is negligible into rivers and streams.The reduced electricity supply exacerbates locals’ hardships and they find it hard to keep the houses warm. “Kashmir is also reeling under an unprecedented power crisis. Students and the elderly are facing immense hardships due to the unsteady supply of electricity,” said National Conference (NC) provincial spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar.