SRINAGAR – Dozens of villages, including border towns of Keran, Karnah and Machil in Kupwara and Gurez in Bandipora, in north Kashmir remained cut off for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday due to accumulation of several feet of snow, slippery road conditions and threat of avalanches.
About three to five feet of snow had accumulated in the upper reaches in north Kashmir, an official of Police Control Room (PCR), Kupwara, told UNI over phone on Saturday.
Officials said due to accumulation of snow, traffic on different routes, leading to far flung and remote areas, including near Line of Control (LoC), remained suspended since Wednesday following heavy snowfall on Tuesday night.
The PCR official said three main roads of Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Keran and Kupwara-Machil are closed for any vehicular movement due to snow. “The roads are very slippery and there is also threat of avalanches, he said.
Meanwhile, the Razdan pass, connecting Gurez, Neeru and dozens of other areas near LoC in Bandipora district, was closed due to heavy snowfall. The road has been closed on Wenesday morning for any vehicular movement due to several feet of snow and slippery conditions.
The authorities have already pressed into service snow clearance machines and cutters to clear the snow and put through the road, which remained closed for six winter months in the past. The government has already approved a tunnel at Razdan pass to make it an all weather road.
The district administration in both Kupwara and Bandipora districts claimed to have already made all arrangements to meet any snow challenge, officials said, adding snow cutters and other sophisticated snow clearance machines have been pressed into service to clear the accumulated snow.
Meanwhile, administration has stocked enough essentials, including rice, atta, sugar, LPG cylinders, medicine at areas which remained cut off during winter with their district and tehsil headquarters in both the district.
Fresh landslide blocks JK highway, 1000’s stranded
A fresh landslide blocked the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district on Saturday, leaving thousands of commuters stranded at various places, officials said.
The traffic on the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was restored in the morning after remaining closed for two days due to heavy snowfall and landslides at several places.
“A massive landslide occurred on the highway near Mahar, 2 km away from Ramban town, around 2 pm, forcing closure of the road,” a traffic department official said.
A clearance operation was immediately launched but, given the volume of the debris, the road is likely to be thrown open for traffic only on Sunday, according to the official.
Light motor vehicles (LMVs) were allowed to move from both sides — Jammu and Srinagar — on Saturday morning, the official said, adding the fresh landslide left thousands of commuters stranded.
The Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed for traffic on Thursday after the Kashmir Valley and high-altitude areas of the Jammu region experienced first major snowfall of the season.
Mughal road, the alternate road that connects border districts of Poonch and Rajouri, remained closed for the fourth day on Saturday, the officials said.
The road was closed for traffic on Wednesday after heavy snowfall along the Pir Ki Gali and Shopian stretch, the officials said.
Air traffic resumes from Srinagar airport after 2 days in Kashmir
Air traffic resumed on Saturday after remaining suspended for two days due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall from Srinagar International Airport, where flight services were made operational in the afternoon.
However, the morning flights from the only airport in the valley were cancelled due to poor visibility.
“The air traffic from Srinagar airport has been resumed after 1300 hrs following improvement in the visibility,” an Airport official told UNI.
He said all the flights after 1300 hrs were operating normally. But, he said all the morning flights had to be cancelled due to poor visibility following cloudy weather.
Meanwhile, passengers alleged that the air fare has sky rocketed during the last two days. “As the valley was cut off from the rest of the country due to closures of Kashmir highway and Mughal road, the air ticket rates hiked many folds, despite the air traffic also remaining suspended,” Irfan Saleem, a resident of Srinagar, told UNI.
He said ticket from Srinagar to Delhi, which was being sold at Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 is being sold at Rs 10,000 to 11,000. “The authorities have been talking about capping the rates, but no such initiative has been taken so far and the common people are suffering. (With PTI, Agency Inputs )