Banihal: The 270-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the tenuous lifeline for the Kashmir valley, was closed for traffic after a portion of the strategic road caved in near Ramban town, officials said on Monday, adding the repair work would take at least five days to restore the arterial route.
A portion of the road near Kela Morh, about four km ahead of the Ramban district headquarters, sank after a concrete retaining wall of the bridge collapsed, leading to the sinking of the road on Sunday evening, the officials said.
"The construction company concerned has started the restoration work on the damaged portion of the road but it will take at least five days to complete the work," Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic), National Highway, Jatinder Singh Jowhar said.
He said a 16-metre retaining wall of a bridge collapsed, which led to the sinking of a 15-metre road, rendering the highway unsafe.
The officers of the Ramban district administration along with officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) rushed to the spot, which is located adjacent to an under-construction tunnel, to devise a strategy for an early restoration of the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country.
The SSP said the restoration work is going on in full swing and all out efforts are being made to ensure the traffic operation on the highway is resumed early.
The highway was opened for traffic only on Sunday after remaining closed for seven days following heavy snowfall and multiple landslides triggered by incessant rains.
Most of the Kashmir-bound vehicles had reached their destination when the road caved in near Ramban, leaving only a few hundred vehicles stranded, the officials said, adding most of them, including trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir, were stopped at various places including Jammu and Udhampur districts.
The SSP said there is no restriction on the movement of traffic between Jammu-Doda-Kishtwar, Jammu-Ramban, Magerkot-Banihal and Banihal-Qazigund stretches.
The officials said commuters were seen crossing the damaged portion on foot to reach their destinations.
The traffic was supposed to ply from Srinagar to Jammu on Monday but was suspended in view of the incident, they said.
The traffic on the highway plies alternatively from the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar to facilitate a smooth movement of vehicles in view of the ongoing work on the four-laning highway project.
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