SRINAGAR Thousands of commuters, who were stranded at different places along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, resumed their journey Sunday as authorities restored the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, officials said.
The 270-km strategic highway was closed for traffic on Saturday afternoon after landslides sent stones rolling from a hillock at several places in Ramban district, hours after it was opened for one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar.
Several thousand trucks and passenger vehicles on way to Kashmir were left stranded as inclement weather hampered the road clearance operation, forcing them to spend the night inside their vehicles, temporary shelters, hotels and places of worship enroute.
Jawahar Tunnel – the gateway to Kashmir – recorded over eight inches of snowfall, while nearby Banihal received four inches of snow but the real problem was landslides and shooting of stones triggered by incessant rains at several places between Panthiyal to Ramsu.
“With the improvement in weather in the wee hours, the road clearance operation was started simultaneously at the affected areas. Panthiyal was the first to be cleared for traffic followed by Moum Passi and adjoining areas, thus allowing resumption of the traffic Sunday afternoon,” a traffic department official said.
He said the traffic is moving at a slow pace at the moment as authorities are only allowing one vehicle at a time in the landslide hit areas.
“The men and machines are still on the job to ensure normal movement of traffic,” he said, adding over 700 vehicles have crossed Ramban and are on way to Jawahar Tunnel.
No fresh traffic was either allowed form Jammu or Srinagar to facilitate smooth movement of stranded vehicles, the official said.
“Rain and snow have stopped at most of the places and weather is likely to improve from today,” an official of the meteorological department said, adding “there is no forecast of any adverse weather for a week”.