Heavy Snowfall Batters Kashmir

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 KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Major Roads And Highways Closed, Air Traffic Suspended; Avalanche Alert Renewed

Srinagar: Several residential houses were damaged as Kashmir valley witnessed widespread snowfall for the third straight day Tuesday, bringing normal life to a grinding halt.

Nearly 4500 vehicles, mostly trucks carrying essentials to the valley, are stranded along the highway at various places.

“The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is closed due to accumulation of snow at many places, especially around Jawahar Tunnel,” an official of the traffic control department said.

He said snow clearance operations were in full swing and efforts were on to restore movement of stranded vehicles along the 260 kilometre road.

Mughal Road, which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region.

The flight operations to and from Srinagar remained suspended for third consecutive day, the officials said.

They said that no flight could take off or arrive at the Srinagar international airport due to poor visibility.

The airlines have already cancelled or rescheduled the flights and as per the officials, it was highly unlikely for any operation to take place at the airport in wake of the snowfall.

The officials said south Kashmir’s Kulgam district received highest snowfall with three to four feet of snow accumulated at some places.

Anantnag district has also received heavy snowfall, they said.

The officials said that Srinagar received 8cms of snowfall in the last 24 hours till 0830 hours while Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded the highest depth in the plains across Valley—29.8cms—during the time and 80cms (32inches) in the last 48 hours.

Pahalgam, the famous tourist destination, and Kokernag recorded 18cms and 26cms of fresh snowfall in the 24 hours respectively.

Regarding Gulmarg, the official said that the famous skiing resort accumulated 20cms of fresh snowfall in the last 24 hours while Kupwara recorded 2cms of snowfall. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Budgam districts received almost the same snow depth as Srinagar even as higher reaches accumulated around 24-30cms or more fresh snow.

Reports said that several main roads and almost all interior lanes are still clogged with snow even as the divisional administration pressed men and machinery into service in the early hours of the day to clear snow from the roads. The snowfall has also led to disruptions in milk and vegetable supplies to Srinagar.

Reports said one walnut tree fell on a residential house of one Abul Hameed Dar at Sagam Kokernag and damaged the roof. Also, Middle School Kanderpora Guree in Bijbehara Anantnag suffered damage along with roofs of two residential houses at Manigam Kulgam. A house was also damaged in Zoonimar area of Srinagar even as there was no loss of life or injury reported.

Meanwhile, the minimum temperature improved in most places in the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point, the officials said.

Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius — up from the previous night’s minus 0.9 degrees Celsius, they said.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 4 degrees Celsius compared to minus 5 degrees Celsius a night earlier.

Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.1 degrees Celsius up from minus 6.7 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the officials said.

Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 0.7 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.0 degrees Celsius.

The MET Office said moderate to heavy snowfall, with isolated very heavy snowfall, was most likely to take place, especially in south Kashmir, Gulmarg, Banihal-Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Kistawar and Zanskar, Drass as well as on the higher reaches of Ladakh UT, over next 24 hours.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.

The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.

Fresh Avalanche Warning Issued

Meanwhile Disaster Management Authority (DMA) issued fresh medium and low-level avalanche warnings for the higher reaches of the avalanche-prone areas in the Union Territory on Tuesday.

An official spokesperson said a medium-level avalanche warning has been issued for the higher reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara and Bandipora districts, besides the Waltengu Nad, south and north portals of the Jawahar Tunnel, Verinag, Kapran, Chowkibal-NC Pass, Gurez, Dawar and Neeru areas.

“Similarly, a low-level avalanche warning has been issued for the upper reaches of Udhampur, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Sonamarg-Zojila, Z-Gali-Kalaroose, Kanzalwan, Tangmarg and Gulmarg,” he added.

People living in these avalanche-prone areas have been advised not to venture out to avoid loss of lives, the spokesperson said.

University, Board Exams Postponed

Various examinations conducted by Kashmir University and others scheduled in Kashmir Valley on January 6 have been postponed amid heavy snowfall.

J&K paramedical Council, GMC Jammu/Srinagar, also postponed till further orders paramedical and nursing theory examination announced vide a date sheet on December 19 last year. “The next date of holding the theory examination will be notified separately,” reads an order by the president/Dean Dr Shahi Sudan

Kashmir University’s Controller of Examinations Prof Irshad A Nawchoo said that UG 1st year examination scheduled to be held on 6th January 2021 (Wednesday) stands postponed in view of the inclement weather conditions.

The examinations of BDS Final (Community Dentistry) and UG 6th semester, which are scheduled to be held on 7th January 2021 (Thursday), are also postponed, he said.

New dates for the deferred examinations will be notified later on, Prof Nawchoo said.

Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) said that the class 11th exam scheduled on 6th January has been postponed in view of snowfall.

“Due to inclement weather across Kashmir Division, the examination of class 11th Annual Regular, Kashmir Division scheduled on 06.01.21 stands postponed,” Joint Secretary (Examination) JKBOSE, Kashmir Division Fresh date will be notified separately, he said, in a statement.

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