Leh highway closed for winter months
SRINAGAR/SONMARG: Rain and snowfall in the Valley on Tuesday brought much-needed respite to the people reeling under a severe cold wave and dry spell.
According to state weather department, Srinagar recorded a maximum of 5.5 degrees Celsius temperature and a minimum of 0.6 degree Celsius.
Weather in Jammu was comparatively favorable and recorded a maximum of 20.1 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 11.3 degrees Celsius.
“Due to passage of a Western Disturbance over the state, most places received very light to light rain and snow whereas moderate snow was reported from higher reaches of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” a weather official said.
The twin tourist destinations in the Valley – Pahalgam and Gulmarg – have been witnessing snowfall for the past 24 hours.
“The weather activity is expected to continue for a few days,” an official at Meteorological department told Kashmir Reader.
Gulmarg received as much as 6 inches of snowfall while Pahalgam received 1 cm of snow.
The fresh precipitation came as a respite after Valley witnessed one of the longest dry-spells in the past four decades.
Most areas, including the summer capital of Srinagar, were freezing at sub-zero temperatures, especially since the last week, resulting in an increase in the health ailments like cough and common cold.
Due to fresh precipitation, the authorities closed down the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh highway, which acts as the only road linking the frontier region of Ladakh with the rest of the state. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir served a notification for the closure of the highway.
According to officials, traffic was suspended since Tuesday morning after snow and rain created a slippery terrain near Zojila road.
As per locals, as much as six inches of fresh snow has accumulated in Sonmarg area while as close to one feet of snow has accumulated near Zojila area.
“The road has turned slippery near Zojila due to which we faced hardships while travelling from Dras to Sonmarg this afternoon,” a driver, Farooq Ahmad, said.
DSP traffic Riyaz Ahmad, posted in Ganderbal, told Kashmir Reader that they will be shifting Sonmarg traffic office to traffic police lines Srinagar and there will be no traffic movement between Sonmarg and Dras for winter months. The highway, which remained open since April 30 last year, is likely to reopen after six months now.
Vinod Kumar, engineer at Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the route, said they made efforts to keep highway open for some period but their operations were hampered by bad weather conditions.