Srinagar: The Srinagar airport and the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained shut for the second consecutive day on Saturday. Intermittent rain and snowfall occurred in the Valley through the day, leading to suspension of both land and air traffic to and from Srinagar.
“No fresh traffic was allowed to ply across the Banihal tunnel in view of the bad weather,” an official said.
The official said that efforts were being made to clear the national highway that connects Kashmir to its winter capital Jammu. “If the weather gets any better we will be able to restore the road at most of the places for traffic movement,” the official said.
According to an official at Srinagar airport, all scheduled flights were cancelled on Saturday due to bad weather, leaving passengers stranded in the airport for hours since morning. “None of the flights could land or take off from the airport due to bad weather,” he said.
An official at the state weather department said that Kashmir Valley reeled under sub-zero temperatures following fresh snowfall. Srinagar recorded a maximum of 2.3 degree Celsius and a minimum of -0.3 degree Celsius. Tourist destination Pahalgam recorded a maximum of 4.6 degree Celsius and a further dip in the minimum temperature at -4.3 degree Celsius.
The weather department has forecast light to moderate rain and snowfall at most places across the state on Sunday, especially in the upper reaches of the Valley.
While the administration faced hassles in clearing snow off the roads on Friday, most of the roads, according to an official at the state mechanical department, were cleared during the night except a few. “Except for two locations in Budgam and Srinagar, we cleared most of the snow from the main roads,” Nodal Officer Mechanized Snow Clearance Mushtaq Hussain Jan told Reader.
Jan added that snow-clearing work remained effective across Kashmir Valley except in places like the Shopian-Kulgam road and the Tangmarg-Gulmarg road where the work was still under process.
As many as 80 snow-clearing machines, according to Jan, were being utilised across the Valley.
Unscheduled power cuts continued across the Valley and in Srinagar, several areas like Jawahar Nagar, Rawalpora and areas in the old city faced long power cuts. Superintending Engineer Power Development Department (PDD) Hashmat Qazi, however, told Reader that power cuts were natural” due to faults in the power supply lines in this weather. “We have restored most of the power supply but we are still receiving reports of faults developing in certain areas and we are working on them,” Qazi said.
Of the total 232 receiving stations, Qazi pointed out, the department had restored 203 stations and the restoration work was in progress in the rest. “As many as 99 power transmission lines are up and we are working on the restoration of the rest of the 10 lines,” he said.
In south Kashmir, moderate snowfall occurred and normal life remained affceted. District headquarters were cut off from villages and remote areas as the authorities failed to clear roads of the snow. People were also reeling under power outage since Friday morning.
An official, however, said, “The snowfall in the plains and district headquarters was mild and was cleared instantly.”
Transport was off the roads and people were running short of essential commodities in most parts of Islamabad and Kulgam districts.
People living in the outskirts of Dooru, Verinag, Pahalgam also complained that they were facing problems as the authorities had not cleared the roads of snow.
“It is deplorable that our disaster management and roads and buildings department are not able to handle even a minor situation. It has been only moderate snowfall and they have been caught unawares,” said Riyaz Ahmad, a resident of Pahalgam.
People in Islamabad town and adjoining areas said they spent Friday night in complete darkness because of no electricity. “It has been only moderate snowfall in our town but we are without electricity since Friday afternoon,” said Tauseef Ahmad, a resident of Islamabad.
He said that mobile phones, computers and inverters were running short of battery.
Reports from Kulgam came of several villages being cut off from district headquarters. The snowfall also caused damage to electric poles due to which electric supply remained cut.
Pahalgam received eight inches of snowfall, much to the delight of tourists. “The snowfall is indeed a magical event and we are happy to witness it for the first time on our maiden visit to the Valley,” said a delighted tourist, Nishant Asthana, from Lucknow.
To the credit of the railways, train services were resumed on Saturday morning after remaining suspended during the entire day on Friday.
— with inputs from Shafat Mir