Izhar Nazir Ali/ Sohail Punjabi
Srinagar/Jammu: The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the fourth consecutive day Thursday amid intermittent rains and snowfall in Kashmir Valley.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded at Ramban, hours after they were allowed to proceed towards Srinagar from Udhampur. Besides, hundreds of load carriers with essentials are also stuck at Nagrota and Udhampur.
“Around 1400 light motor vehicles were allowed to proceed towards Valley after the Beacon authorities cleared the landslide at Kheri in the morning; however, the traffic had to be suspended after fresh landslides at Ganroo in Ramsoo,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Traffic, Muneer Khan, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that half of the road at Ganroo has been cleared off the landslides but incessant rains were hampering the efforts of beacon to make the road motorable.
“Traffic will be allowed on the highway Friday if the weather improves and Beacon is able to clear off the landslides,” he added.
SSP Ramban Randeep Kumar said accommodation has been arranged for the stranded passengers at Ramban , Chanderkote and Batote.
“We are also in touch with the army for further accommodation,” he said.
Amid protests by stranded Kashmir-bound passengers and demands for airlifting, two state ministers rushed to the Jammu bus stand to pacify the passengers and assured them of restoration of the highway.
Minister For Education Naeem Akhtar, accompanied by Minister for R&B Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, visited General Bus Stand, Jammu and took stock of the problems of the stranded passengers.
“Interacting with the stranded passengers, the Education Minister said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is carrying out restoration work on war-footing and the damaged stretch in Ramban area,” an official spokesman said.
Akhtar also called for activating different market checking squads to check black-marketing, hoarding and profiteering by unscrupulous shopkeepers and traders who take undue advantage of the weather and road conditions.
Earlier, stranded passengers held protests in bus stand demanding immediate airlifting to Kashmir from Jammu in view of closure of the highway for the past four days.
In Srinagar, the intermittent rains caused waterlogging at several places causing inconvenience to the commuters. City’s commercial hub Lal Chowk and its adjoining areas saw thin movement of people, as the rains had inundated many lanes and streets. Reports of water logging due to incessant rains were also been received from other parts of Srinagar.
Meanwhile, the fresh snowfall in upper reaches and the rains in plains plummeted the day temperature sharply, an official of the weather department said.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in the Valley where minimum temperature was recorded at minus 6.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg received 17 inches of snow, an official of the weather department told Kashmir Reader. The Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir received 4.2 mm rains, as the minimum temperature was recorded at minus 1.4 and the maximum 4.7 degree Celsius.
Srinagar recorded 3.3 mm rains and minimum and maximum temperatures of 2.2 and 5.3 degree Celsius respectively. Kupwara recieved 5.8 mm rains and Qazigund 4.8 mm and Kokernag 2.6 mm of rains, respectively.
“The weather will remain mainly erratic till March 7. During this time, plains might receive light showers, while there are chances of snowfall in upper reaches,” Director Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus, told Kashmir Reader.
“The precipitation will increase from March 8,” he added.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir issued a medium danger avalanche warning.
“In wake of an avalanche warning for snow bound areas in Chowkibal, Tangdhar, Taya, Ragini, Naugaon, Kaiyan, Radha, TMG, Padam, Zebra, the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla, Kupwara and Kargil are asked to advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas,” according to an official handout.