1000’s Stranded Cry Neglect As Highway Remains Closed

SRINAGAR — The Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir with rest of the world, remained closed for third consecutive day on Wednesday. 

Report said that over 5000 vehicles including trucks and other load carriers are stranded at Nagrota Bypass, Udhampur -Dhar Road, Jakheni Bypass besides Manwal-Mansar area of the highway whereas, around 200 light and medium passenger vehicles are stranded in Banihal and Ramban areas. Over 250 vehicles are also trapped on Nashri-Batote-Doda-Kishtwar and Bhaderwah roads.

Most of the people who are stranded on the snow-blocked highway complained that the administration failed in taking care of them. 

The people complained that local administration made no arrangement and people travelling with children, infants, women and senior citizens were left at the mercy of God. 

 “People were literally left to die in biting cold. There are no facilities,” the people told reporters who reached them by foot. 

 A truck driver said that there was no water or food available as a result of which people face tremendous hardships. 

Reports said many of stranded passengers, including children and women, faced shortage of food and shelter, also carried on their journey on foot to reach their desired destinations.  Distraught passengers lashing out at the government for its ‘callousness’ alleged that not a single official from Ramban administration was available anywhere on the blocked part of the mountainous road.

“Police comes and ask us to streamline but no one from police and administration asked us whether there was anything that we can take. There is no shelter,” the angry commuters said. The situation was no different at Jammu bus stand and Kashmir-bound travelers alleged that hotels were fleecing them, charging them more than double amount for night stay.      

A massive snow-clearance operation was undertaken by the Border Roads Organisation (BR0) to restore the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar Highway, which remained closed for vehicular traffic for the third consecutive day Wednesday, officials said.

“The highway was restored between Banihal area of Jammu region) and the Kashmir Valley Wednesday evening. Many stranded for the past two days at Banihal were allowed to move to Kashmir,” a Traffic Police officer said.

However, snow clearance operation on the Banihal-Ramban section was underway and the BRO was working to clear landslide, they said.

Both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel – the gateway to Kashmir – was started and the snow-clearance has been done.

An avalanche that struck the Jawahar Tunnel area Tuesday, had blocked both the tubes on the Qazigund side.

The BRO, which maintains the Jawahar Tunnel stretch of the highway, pressed its men and machines to clear the road of the accumulated snow since Tuesday itself, they said.

They said the road from Banihal, which recorded over two-and-a-half feet of snow to Jawahar tunnel, was also being cleared, while the Banihal-Ramban stretch is almost clear after agencies concerned removed minor landslides and stones which came down at different places due to incessant rains.

“Traffic movement disrupted continuously for three days due to rain, shooting stones / landslides / snowfall on Jammu Srinagar. Therefore tomorrow on 24.01.2019, subject to fair weather/clearance of road only stranded vehicles shall be allowed,” a traffic department official said.

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