For want of better refrigeration, people in Swat have started relying on age-old alternatives.
As the demand for ice continues, some have resorted to fetching slabs of glacial ice and selling it across Swat.
Dozens of trucks are being used to transport large amounts of the ice from glaciers in Kalam and other parts of upper Swat to Mingora every day. More than 200 vehicles laden with the ice are parked at various squares of Mingora, where people are eagerly buying the stocks.
“We cut the ice with massive saws and axes in the glaciers and transport them here. It’s a perfect alternative for machine-prepared ice, which is short in the market due to loadshedding,” said Abdul Ghani, an ice dealer in Utror valley. He added that people have been buying snow like “hot cakes”.
“I purchased a large quantity of glacial ice for Rs20 only and it will last longer than regular ice. For poor people like us, it is a blessing,” said Amir Zeb, a driver holding an ice block among a crowd of potential buyers. While comparing prices of glacial ice and machine ice, Zeb said that firstly there is shortage of ice in the market and the few places that do have it are selling it for Rs50 to Rs80. He said that glacial ice worth Rs20 more than meets the requirement for Iftar.
However, Fazal Maula, a dealer of machine ice in Mingora, said that his business has not been affected by the influx ice from glaciers. “It has rather decreased a burden from us. When glacier snow is not available, we face huge rush and disorder.” He further said that he cannot meet the demands of people because of loadshedding and the hot weather.
On the other hand, the practice is prone to causing health problems among the consumers, according to health experts.
“The glacier ice contains various small particles like sand and dust which can create problems in the kidneys,” said Dr Imran, a physician in Mingora. “This ice is unhygienic and I urge everyone to avoid it,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.