Srinagar: The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the world as the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the fifth day on Saturday due to snow avalanche and landslides.
Hundreds of vehicles, mostly trucks and oil tankers remained stranded for the past about a week at different places on the highway.
Closure of the highway has resulted in acute shortage of essentials commodities, particularly fresh vegetables in the Kashmir valley.
A number of areas on the highway, including Shaitan Nallah saw huge snow avalanches on the road.
There were landslies at Chamanwar, Sher Bibi and Digdol damaging several km of road.
However, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintainance of the highway had put into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the snow and landslide.
There was huge snow on the road at Shaitan Nallah, a BRO official said adding snow clearance operation was going on war footing.
We have been able to put through one-way traffic between from Qazigund upto Banihal after clearing the snow, he said adding efforts are being made to make it two-way.
However, he said, massive operation was going on to clear landslides on other side of the Banihal.
The weather was dry during the past two days with the result snow clearance operation was conducted smoothly though there was threat of landslides.
However, a traffic police official said that traffic on the highway will be resumed only once a green signal is received from BRO and Traffic police officials posted at different places.
However, only stranded vehicles will be allowed before allowing fresh traffic on the highway.
Meanwhile, hundreds of vehicles, particularly trucks and oil tanker, are stranded on the highway at different places.
Truckers said that they are stranded for the past about a week on the highway. We have now no essentials commodities, particularly water, they said and alleged that the authorities had failed to provide them any assistance. Despite tall claims there was absolutely no facility for stranded passengers and truckers, they alleged.
Traffic on the highway, the only road linking the valley with the rest of the country, was disrupted frequently due to snowfall and landslides besides slippery road conditions since first heavy snowfall on January 6.
The historic Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region and the highway, linking the Ladakh region with Kashmir remained closed due to heavy snowfall. Both the roads will reopen only in summer.
The Mughal road is seen as alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
However, the closure of the highway has resulted in considerable increase in the prices of essentials, including vegetables and fruits. Kashmir valley is importing vegetables, fruits and chicken and meat from different parts of India.
Majority meat and chicken shops remained closed in the valley because of no supply from outside due to closure of the highway.
A wholesale trader at vegetable mandi in Srinagar said that only potatoes and onions are available in the mandi. We were receiving hundreds of trucks loaded with fresh vegetables every day but for the past about one week there is hardly any, he said adding the local vegetables are also under snow.
Air Traffic Affected, 7 Flights Cancelled
Air traffic was once again affected after resuming yesterday at Srinagar International Airport, where seven flights were today cancelled due to fresh snowfall in Kashmir.
Operations at the airport were resumed yesterday after remaining suspended due to light to heavy snowfall for three days, when not even a single flight was able to land or take off.
Air traffic was once again suspended in the afternoon from Srinagar airport due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow on the runway, an airport official said.
He said eight morning flights were able to operate from the only airport in the valley.
However, he said as the day progressed, the visibility deceased due to moderate to heavy snowfall. The remaining seven flights were cancelled due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow on the runway, he added.
As many as 15 flights operate from the airport between Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi on daily bases.
This is the fourth time that air traffic from the only airport in the Kashmir valley was affected due to snowfall in the last less than one month.
Not even a single flight was able to operate from the airport for three days since January 23 due to light to heavy snowfall. Air traffic was again hit for three days from January 16 in Kashmir valley, where heavy to very heavy snowfall was predicted for the next three days. Air traffic was suspended on January 6 for three days due to snowfall and poor visibility.
Avalanche Warning for Valley, Kargil
Divisional Administration Kashmir on Saturday issued a medium danger avalanche warning for next 24-hours for hilly and avalanche prone areas of Kashmir Valley and Kargil district.
Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 28 to January 29, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Islamabad and Kargil districts of Kashmir Division a statement of the Divisional Administration said.
Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from roof tops of their houses and bunkers to avoid damages.
After Fresh Snowfall, MeT Predicts More For Next 48 Hours
After witnessing some respite during the day yesterday due to sunshine, Kashmir valley received fresh snowfall since this morning though the maximum temperature was normal.
However, a Met department spokesperson said that light snowfall will occur during the next 48 hours at isolated places in Kashmir valley.
Leh in Ladakh was the coldest place in the region after mercury witnessed a dip of about five degree. Against minus 5.1 degree recorded yesterday, the night temperature was minus 10.1 degree.
He said sky will be mainly clear during the next 24 hours in Leh, where maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 3 degree and minus 5 degree, respectively.
The world famous ski resort of Gulmarg, where the world class slopes are already under several feet of snow, received fresh 8 inches of snow since this morning. It is snowing heavily since this morning in Gulmarg. Tourists, including skiers and adventure lovers, are enjoying the snowfall despite chilly weather conditions, a hotelier said.
He said the ski resort has already received more than 9 feet of snow so far, adding the tourist flow will increase during the coming weeks now that the ski slopes are covered with snow.
The ski resort was the coldest place in the valley after the mercury further dipped and settled at minus 6.6 degree, against minus 4 degree. The night temperature at Gulmarg, which attracts skiers, tourists and adventure lovers from all over the globe because of its ski slopes during winter season, was slightly above normal.
Meanwhile, only vehicles with chains attached to their tyres are being allowed on Gulmarg-Tangmarg road in view of slippery conditions of the road due to heavy snowfall in the area.
After witnessing some respite from weather woes yesterday after sun came out from behind the clouds, Srinagar received rain in the morning followed by fresh snowfall since this afternoon. However, vehicular movement has slowed down due to slippery road conditions due to moderate snowfall in the city, where many roads are waterlogged due to faulty drainage system.
Meanwhile, the mercury in Srinagar witnessed an improvement of one degree during the night. Against minus 0.8 degree recorded yesterday, the night temperature was 0.8 degree, about a notch above normal.
The spokesperson said there is nothing abnormal if it rains during this time of the winters. Whether it will rain or snow depends on the temperature. As it was cloudy during the night there was an improvement in the temperature in Srinagar which resulted in rain in the morning. Once the temperature dipped, it started to snow in the afternoon, he said.
He said the sky will be partly cloudy during the next 24 hours in Srinagar, where maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 7 degree and minus 1 degree respectively.
It was snowing heavily in world famous health resort of Pahalgam, where mercury witnessed a dip of a notch though it was still three degree above normal. Against minus 2.2 degree recorded yesterday, the night temperature was minus 3.4 degree. Since early this morning Pahalgam has received heavy snowfall. Despite the chilly, the tourists are out playing with snow, a hotelier said.
The night temperature at Qazigund, gateway to Kashmir Valley, on the 300-km-long Highway, which remained closed for the fifth day today, dipped and settled at minus 1 degree, against 0.6 degree recorded yesterday. The night temperature was a degree above normal.
Another health resort, Kokernag, which also recorded fresh snowfall since this morning, witnessed a slight improvement after mercury surged and settled at minus 0.4 degree, against minus 0.6 degree recorded yesterday. The night temperature in the health resort was about a degree above normal.
The mercury at Kupwara in north Kashmir also dipped and settled at minus 1.5 degree, against 0.8 degree recorded yesterday.
09 Structures Damaged Due To Snow Fall/Avalanche in North Kashmir
Nine structures including six residential houses were damaged due to heavy snow fall in Bandipora and Kupwara, police said.
In Bandipora, two residential houses and two granaries belonging to Mohammad Ramzan Khan and Ghulam Mohammad Khan, residents of Zaigai, Tulail got damaged due to snow avalanche.
In Kupwara, five structures were damaged due to heavy snowfall which includes two residential houses belonging to Irshad Ahmad Tantray and Sher Khan, residents of Dana, Ring Payeen, Machil; Darul-Aloom Hanfia Anwarya, Thandoosa Kralpora and two residential houses belonging to Farooq Ahmad Lone, resident of Thandoosa and Mohammad Shafi Pord, resident of Dardpora in Kralpora.
03 of a family rescued in Kathohallan, Shopian
Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday evening said that their men provided helping hand by rescuing a family from a remote village Kathohallan of district Shopian today.
Police received an information telephonically that a family of four members are unconscious in their home in village Kathohallan and needs to be shifted immediately to hospital.
On receiving this information, SHO Keller Shri Shameem Ahmad constituted a team to rescue the family.
He also informed department of MED and BMO of the area to reach the spot.
The team cleared the snow and travelled one kilometre by foot to reach the spot. On reaching the spot, one person Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, son of Abdul Ahad Lone was found dead in his home and his wife Kousar Jan and two daughters Irtiqa Jan and Rutba Jan were found in unconscious state.
The family was shifted immediately to Sub District Hospital Keller for treatment. After treatment the family was shifted to their home back.
After investigating the matter it was known that the incident happened because of suffocation as they had kept some utensil filled with charcoal over kerosene stove to keep the room warm during the night.
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