Srinagar: The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country as the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for the fifth day today 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 essential commodities, particularly fresh vegetables in the Kashmir valley.
There were landslies at Chamanwar, Sher Bibi and Digdol damaging several km of road.
However, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway has 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 a 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 which facilitated the snow clearance operation, 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.
Only stranded vehicles will be allowed before allowing fresh traffic on the highway.
Hundreds of vehicles, particularly trucks and oil tanker, are stranded on the highway at different places.
Truckers told UNI that they are stranded for the past about a week on the highway. ”We have now no essential 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 national 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 the 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 the country.
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.
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