Kashmir highway closed for second consecutive day, 4,000 vehicles stranded
SRINAGAR / Nov 8 – Over 4,000 vehicles were left stranded as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed for the second consecutive day following heavy snowfall and landslides which blocked vehicular movement at several places, officials said on Friday.
The Mughal Road, connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with South Kashmir’s Shopian district, was also closed for traffic for the third consecutive day on Friday after snowfall in the high altitude areas on Wednesday, officials said.
“The national Highway is closed for second consecutive day today due to the accumulation of snow at various places and a landslide triggered by heavy rains in Samroli,” an official said.
As a result, over 4,000 vehicles are stranded at various places enroute.
As per reports over 4,000 vehicles, mostly trucks, are stranded at Nagrota, Udhampur, Ramban, Banihal, Sidhra, Samba and Kathua areas on the highway.
Officials said no traffic has been allowed from either the Jammu or Srinagar side due to snowfall and slippery road conditions.
Officials said vehicles have been stopped at Nagrota traffic checkpost on the highway on the outskirts of Jammu and also at Udhampur.
Mughal road is closed for the third consecutive Friday due to heavy snowfall at Pir Ki Gali and Shopian areas, they said.
They said commuters have been directed to avoid travel along the road to avoid any untoward incident.
Untimely Snowfall Cuts Off Kashmir, Wreaks Havoc
Heavy snowfall across Kashmir on Thursday cut off the valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said here.
Four persons, including two locals working as Army porters, died in separate incidents following heavy snowfall.
An official of the traffic department told PTI that roads which connect the summer capital with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar have also been closed due to adverse weather conditions.
Over 2000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.
An official of the Airport Authority of India said all incoming and outgoing flights at Srinagar Airport have been cancelled.
“A call on afternoon flights will be taken only after reassessing the weather situation,” the official said.
The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the valley woke up to an unseasonal snowfall, setting in early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the MET department said.
The snowfall has disrupted life in Kashmir as power was snapped in the early hours.
A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snowfall.
While most of the vehicles remained off roads, few cars and cabs could be seen on roads but drivers were facing difficulty in manouvering vehicles in view of accumulation of snow.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration has taken up restoration works on a war footing.
“We have 45 machines on snow clearance job while dewatering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no waterlogging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining stations will also be restored in the next few hours,” he said.
Srinagar city received around 11 cm of snow till 11.30 am while the valley’s gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12 cm of snowfall.
Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62 cm so far, the official said.
Higher reaches of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara received first snowfall on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rains.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night’s 5.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of six degrees.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in the newly formed union territory, recording a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius while other weather stations also recorded a minimum temperature hovering around the freezing point, the MET department official said.
Officials in Jammu said that upper reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua districts also received snowfall.
In the plains of Jammu, heavy rains continued triggering cold wave conditions.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam on Thursday called for joint control rooms to be made functional throughout the winter season to keep the public informed about adverse weather and issue alerts for potential avalanches, an official spokesman said.
The chief secretary instructed the Kashmir divisional commissioner to share with the district administration, the names and contact details of the nodal officers designated for coordinating rescue and air operations, the spokesman said.
The chief secretary asked Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department secretary to immediately liaise with principal secretary, civil aviation, on the commencement of air services to the snow-bound areas.
He directed authorities to setting up a help desk at the Srinagar airport.
The chief secretary also directed the DCs to sanction ex-gratia as per SDRF norms to the families of the persons who lost their lives in the snowfall. He also advised the DCs to undertake restoration works immediately, wherever, required as per SDRF norms.
He asked the DCs to lead from the front, be visible on ground to motivate subordinate officers and employees and seek cooperation of public in restoration of essential services, the spokesman said.