Thousands Stranded As Kashmir Highway Remains Closed For Fourth Day

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Vehicles stranded on Kashmir Highway – File Pic

SRINAGAR – Thousands of people remain stranded along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, as the only road linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, remained closed for the fourth day on Saturday due to fresh snowfall and landslides.

The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the past four days on Saturday due to fresh snowfall and landslides, besides shooting stones, a traffic police official said this morning.

He said the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for maintenance and widening of the highway, cleared the landslides last evening at Digdol, where a portion of hill had collapsed last on Wednesday. We allowed stranded vehicles, mostly carrying passengers, to move, he said, adding but at 2200 hrs there were fresh landslides at the same place (Digdol).

A driver was injured after a stone hit his vehicle at Digdol. The injured was admitted to Ramban hospital. However, other occupants escaped unhurt.

Since early this morning there was fresh snowfall at Qazigund, on both sides of Jawhar tunnel, Shaitan Nallah and Banihal, he said adding about six inches snow had accumulated so far and it was still snowing due to which road has become slippery.
He said there were fresh landslides at Digdol and other areas, triggered by rain since early this morning.

The NHAI personnel are already on the job to clear the landslides, he said, adding continued shooting stones badly hampered clearance operation.

He said once the landslide and snow clearance operation are over, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations. “No fresh vehicle will be allowed from Srinagar and Jammu,” he added.

Meanwhile, large number of passengers, including women, children and elderly persons and truckers, remained stranded, mostly between Qazigund to Jawahar tunnel. These vehicles had left Srinagar for Jammu on Wednesday morning but got stranded after landslides at Digdol, where a portion of hill has collapsed.

A local newsgathering agency JKNS quoted, Inspector General of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar saying that about 1500 trucks and 35 LMV’s were struck between Digdol and Nowgam in Banihal while 4000 trucks were stranded between Mir Bazar, Qazigund and Lower Munda. Kumar further said that as many as 2900 trucks were stranded in Udhampur stretch.

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir, remained closed for the past 25 days on Saturday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition due to below freezing temperature. The Ladakh Hill Development Council (LHDC), Leh has signed an agreement with Army to import fresh vegetables during the winter when the Ladakh region remained cut off.

The historic 86-km-long Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region also remained closed for the past 25 days.

Fresh Snowfall In Upper Reaches, Sunshine In Plains

World famous ski resort of Gulmarg and other upper reaches received fresh snowfall while sunshine greeted people in the plains in Kashmir valley, including summer capital, Srinagar, though ice cold winds continued.

The night temperature settled above normal at majority of the places in the valley, where there is prediction of wet weather during the next 24 hours.

A Met department spokesperson said that light snowfall would occur at some places during the next 24 hours in Kashmir valley under the influence of Western Disturbance (WD), which is active in the region. “Another WD, which originated from the Arabian Sea and is approaching the region through Afghanistan and Pakistan, will hit the region on Monday,” he said, adding under the influence of this system light to moderate snow would occur at some places in the valley.

Gulmarg, about 55 km from here in north Kashmir, received over 9 inches of fresh snow, resulting in further dip in the day temperature. Kongdori and Apharwat, the highest point of the cable car project in Gulmarg, also received moderate to heavy snowfall. The night temperature in the ski resort improved about 2 degree from Friday and settled at minus 6.5 degree.

“Despite snow since early this morning, the tourists are out on ski slopes, which are already covered under several feet of snow, enjoying different activities,” a hotelier said.

He said with the snowfall, people associated with tourism are expecting more tourists to come to Gulmarg, which is famous for its ski slopes and the quality of snow.

World famous health resort of Pahalgam, about 100 km from here in south Kashmir, received very light snowfall in the wee hours on Saturday, resulting in dip in the day temperature. But, the night temperature at the health resort improved and settled above normal on Thursday due to overcast conditions. Against minus 10 degree recorded on Friday, the night temperature in Pahalgam was minus 2.5 degree.

The upper reaches in Pahalgam, including Chandanwari, received very light snowfall. Amarnath cave shine and its periphery, besides Sheshnag, Mahagung, Pisso top and Panjterni, also received light to moderate snowfall.

After witnessing major improvement in the night temperature, people woke up to a chilly Saturday morning in the summer capital, Srinagar. However, as the day progressed sun came out from behind the clouds though ice cold winds continued. The mercury in Srinagar improved over 3 degree from Friday and settled at minus 0.1 degree, which is about 2 degree above normal.

Many other parts of north Kashmir also received fresh snowfall. Sadna Top received about 1.5 feet of fresh snow while Z-gali recorded 1 foot of fresh snow since last night.

Traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained suspended for the fourth successive day on Saturday due to fresh snowfall at Jawahir Tunnel and landslides since last night.

The night temperature at Qazigund, gateway to the valley, Kupwara in north Kashmir and tourist resort of Kokernag witnessed major improvement and settled at minus 0.6 degree, minus 0.8 degree and minus 2.1 degree respectively.

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