SRINAGAR The Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the world, was closed on Saturday and authorities said the only stranded vehicles would allowed and that too in groups rather than in bulk if the thoroughfare was made traffic worthy on Sunday.
Today traffic movement affected on Jammu Srinagar Highway due to landslides/shooting stones between Ramban- Banihal stretch. MeT Deptt. predicted more rain in next 24 hours in J&K may lead to disruption on highway, traffic department official said, adding, Subject to fair weather/ clearance of road tomorrow on 03.03.2019 only stranded vehicles shall be allowed towards Srinagar. In-charge TCP Nagrota/Udhampur shall remain in constant touch with TCU Ramban (seek weather/road condition report) before allowing the vehicles towards Srinagr and release the vehicles in groups not in bulk.
The highway was opened for Kashmir-bound vehicles Saturday morning after remaining closed for the past five days.
About eight inches of snow had accumulated on the ground near the Jawahar Tunnel – the gateway to Kashmir, while incessant rains triggered landslides and sent stones hurling down a hillock at several places between Banihal and Ramban, forcing closure of the highway, the officials said.
They said the debris clearance operation could not be started due to the rainfall.
The closure of the highway left thousands of commuters, who had left for Srinagar from winter capital Jammu stranded at various places.
“We have left for Srinagar around 4 AM and managed to reach near the Nashri Tunnel after moving at a snail’s pace. After spending 16 hours to cover a distance of nearly 100 km, we are returning to Jammu,” Owais Hameed Bhat, a resident of Natipora locality of Srinagar, told PTI.
Abdul Rashid,70, from Bemina area of Srinagar said he along with his wife are not in good health and decided to leave for Srinagar after the Traffic department showed the green signal. “We left around 2 AM in a cab given the weather prediction to reach our destination. We are yet to reach Ramban – 145 km from Jammu,” he said, claiming that there were no restrictions on the movement of trucks from Kashmir to Jammu despite the Traffic department’s clear directive that no vehicle would be allowed from the opposite direction.
“Had they allowed only Srinagar-bound traffic, we would have crossed the Jawahar Tunnel early in the morning before it started raining heavily,” he said.
A Traffic department official said the highway was blocked by a landslide at Panthiyal around 1 PM and constant stones hurling down from the hillock due to landslide did not allow the concerned agencies to carry out the road clearance operation.
He confirmed that some stranded trucks were allowed to move towards Jammu in the morning, but the inclement weather caused the problem.
More than 4,000 vehicles, including passenger vehicles, are stranded at various places, the official said, adding that a large number of vehicles returned to Jammu from Udhampur and other places after they were informed that it will take some time to clear the debris.
The vehicles stranded in the landslide-prone areas are being moved to safety, he said.
The strategic highway was closed on Monday after multiple landslides and sinking of a portion of a road near Ramban town, they said.
After restoring the road and clearing the stranded vehicles, including truck carrying essential commodities to Srinagar, authorities decided to allow Kashmir-bound traffic from Jammu on Saturday.
The high-altitude areas experienced fresh snowfall, while the plains were lashed by intermittent rains since Friday evening.