Srinagar: Power outage and water logging sparked anti-government demonstrations in many parts of the Kashmir Valley on Thursday. Meanwhile, after three day’s closure, the 300-km strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway was reopened for one-way traffic.
Here in Srinagar, protests were reported from many areas against government failure to restore electricity supply. In Nowpora, people took to streets and blocked a key road for several hours causing disruption in the smooth flow of traffic.
“For the last three days our area is reeling under darkness. The government makes false announcements that power supply has been restored. It’s big lie,” Ejaz Rasool, a protester, told Kashmir Reader.
Reports of protests were also received from Eidgah and Soura areas of the city. At the SKIMS, Soura, scores of attendants staged protests over unavailability of water supply in the premier hospital.
The SKIMS authorities rejected the allegations and said the water supply was temporarily cut off due to ongoing work on the lavatories.
“There is no dearth of water. However, the supply was stopped for sometime because the bathrooms built in 1982 are currently being renovated. One bathroom is functional in every ward. Administration has taken all measures so that the patients and the attendants don’t face any inconvenience,” SKIMS’s Medical Superintendent Farooq Jan told Kashmir Reader.
Protests over power breakdown were also reported from Aloochi Bagh, Magarmal Bagh, Saraibala and other areas of the uptown city. In Saraibala, traders staged demonstrations over indifference of the officials to dewater the busy marketplace. The government quarters at Magarmal Bagh which houses many media offices is also inundated for the last three days.
“The government’s response to the snowfall has been pathetic. From last three days, the footpath in front of our shops has not been cleared of water logging. Now, water has started entering our shops. This is height of callousness,” said Riyaz Ahmad, a trader.
The scene of water logging was no different in other parts of the city. Roads near Exhibition, Regal Chowk, Baba Demb, Munawarabad and other areas have been turned into cesspool.
Meanwhile, power outage also led to protests in other major towns and district headquarters of the Valley. In the frontier Kupwara district, scores of residents of Drugmulla, Muqam-e-Shah Wali and Anderhama took to streets and staged demonstrations. The protesters blocked Srinagar-Kupwara highway demanding immediate restoration of power supply. Similar protests were also reported from Kulangam area of Handwara.
In south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, scores of people assembled outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office and staged protests against the unavailability of electricity for last three days. In Shopian, power failure sparked protests in Lurgam and Bonpora.
In the neighbouring Anantnag district, agitated people held protests at Ashmuqam, Kokernag and Qazigund.
Meanwhile, a senior officer of the Power Development Department told Kashmir Reader that around 80-85 per cent of the restoration work has been completed and around 900 MW electricity was being supplied to the consumers.
“Thousands of electricity poles, transmission lines and transformers have suffered massive damage due to the heavy snowfall. It was a natural calamity. However, our men put all the hard work to restore power supply in maximum places across the Valley,” he said.
He said some areas in south Kashmir were still inaccessible due to heavy snowfall making the restoration work difficult. “However, we’re hopeful that in a day or two, 100 per cent restoration work will be completed,” he added.
Meanwhile, officials said Srinagar-Jammu highway was thrown open for vehicular traffic after the Beacon cleared the route. Around 4,00 vehicles, including 1900 trucks and 2000 passenger vehicles halted at Qazigund, Khanabal, and other areas of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district were allowed to move towards Jammu.
“Traffic was restored on Thursday morning. Around 400 vehicles were allowed to proceed to Jammu. Similarly, 106 light motor vehicles stopped at Udhampur were allowed to move towards Srinagar in the evening,” Inspector General of police (IGP) traffic, Muneer Khan, told Kashmir Reader.
He said if the weather conditions remain pleasant, traffic from Jammu to Srinagar will be allowed on Saturday. However, the drivers, he said, must ensure to cross Nagrota by 8 am.