SRINAGAR Moderate to heavy snowfall in Kashmir Valley threw life out of gear here as it closed Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the Mughal Road, the Srinagar-Leh thoroughfare and mountain passes leading to Gurez and Tangdhar. It also temporarily shut down Srinagar airport and disrupted rail services.
Most places in Kashmir, including plains of the valley, received moderate to heavy snowfall overnight, officials of the MeT Department said.
The snowfall, which began in the late afternoon on Friday, continued in most parts of the valley this morning, they said, adding it is one of the heaviest snowfalls in the recent years in the plains of Kashmir.
Srinagar recorded 10 inches of snowfall and the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded two feet of fresh snow. While Qazigund recorded 11 inches, Kokernag three inches, Pahalgam 16 inches and Kupwara 17 inches of snow, the officials said.
The higher reaches of the valley received heavy snowfall which has led to closure of Srinagar-Jammu Highway and other road links, a spokesman of the Traffic Control Room here said.
He said Mughal Road, Srinagar-Leh National Highway and Bandipora-Gurez road were also closed for traffic.
Air traffic to and fro Srinagar airport was partially restored on Saturday after remaining affected for nearly 24 hours due to snowfall, officials said.
While all flights in the morning were cancelled due to poor visibility and snow accumulation on the runway, five flights operated late in the afternoon as the weather improved, an airport official said.
The runway was cleared and the visibility improved, resulting in resumption of flight operations after nearly 24 hours, he said.
“Only five flights could operate on Saturday. Three landed at the airport on Saturday, while two were parked at the aerodrome since Friday,” the official said.
The snowfall has also disrupted normal life and affected the movement of people and transport in Srinagar city and other districts of the valley.
Road clearance operations were undertaken by the respective district administrations across the valley since the morning. Most of the public traffic was off the roads while shops in Srinagar Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of the Valley, and other major towns remained closed.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said that the essential services disrupted at some places due to the heavy snowfall across the Kashmir were restored within hours as the administration worked round the clock.
He was speaking at meeting convened to review the restoration of electricity and water supply, snow clearance on roads, Health Services, supply of essentials commodities, like rice, atta, sugar, K. Oil and LPG and other arrangements put in place in the Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil districts at a high-level meeting, an official spokesman said here.
All District Development Commissioners (DDCs) informed that all essential services were restored and there is no shortage of essential commodities in their respective districts.
The DDCs further informed that all the highways and roads of the districts have been cleared by the engineering wings. The roads to Pahalgam and Gulmarg tourist resorts are also open for traffic. Two rescue teams have been already deployed at Waltengo-Naar in case of an eventuality. Alone in Srinagar city, 25 snow clearance machines on the job, the officials informed.
All the health institutions are functioning normally with proper heating arrangements and patients are being attended by the doctors and paramedics besides hassle free ambulance services in their respective districts. District and departmental control rooms are working 24×7 and their contact numbers have been publicised in media for prompt redressal of public grievances. Regarding National Highway which is clear upto Qazigund and beyond that, adequate Men and Machinery were deployed to clear snow so that valley will be connected to the rest of the country as soon as possible.
The Divisional Commissioner directed BRO Engineers to speed up the pace of snow clearance work and press additional men and machinery on the job so that National Highway as well as far flung areas of the Valley will be connected as an earliest.
For mitigation of public problems, all DDCs were directed to use SDRF amount liberally and also send hourly report of post snowfall scenario in their respective districts to the Divisional Commissioner.
To address inundation problem in low lying areas of the Srinagar city, the divisional commissioner directed SMC to deploy adequate number of de-watering pumps along with fire and emergency machines immediately besides Drainage department will clear chocked drains immediately so that water logging shall not take place during present frost conditions. They have also been directed to hire tractors for snow clearance in lanes and pathways.
SRTC were directed to start bus services on hospital and airport routes immediately so that patients and passengers do not face inconvenience besides RTO Kashmir ensure proper transportation on all routes across the valley immediately.
The Divisional Commissioner stressed upon all concerned departments to be prepared and keep their men and machinery in ready mode to tackle any situation arising due to inclement weather conditions and ensure prompt restoration. They have also been directed to depute one officer at Police Control room for prompt action against any eventuality.
Meanwhile, owing to the snowfall, the night temperature in the valley rose last night providing relief to the residents from the intense cold conditions.
The mercury in Srinagar city, which had recorded a low of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius on the previous night, settled at a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius Friday night.
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