Kashmir remains cut off, MeT predicts more snow, rains for next 24 hrs
SRINAGAR: The months-long dry spell in Kashmir ended on Monday as moderate to heavy snowfall was recorded in the region. The Valley remained cut off from the rest of the world as traffic, both air and surface, remained suspended throughout the day.
Sharad Kumar, the Director of the Srinagar International Airport, told Kashmir Reader that no flight could land or take off due to low visibility and continuous snow. “Forty-eight domestic flights were cancelled today,” he said, adding, “Earlier flights could not take off or land because of snow, and later on the same thing happened due to poor visibility.”
Traffic authorities closed vehicular movement on the Jammu-Kashmir highway because of accumulation of snow around Jawahar Tunnel in Qazigund.
“Due to slippery road conditions and fresh snowfall at the Jawahar Tunnel and other areas, the highway has been closed,” a senior traffic police official said. Several roads leading to hilly areas were also closed for traffic due to snow and rains.
The changed weather conditions brought the Valley its first major snowfall of this winter. January 2018, according to the local Meteorological Department (MeT), was the driest in terms of rainfall in Kashmir in the past 38 years.
A MeT official told Kashmir Reader that Gulmarg was the place that received the highest snowfall of one foot. He claimed that Srinagar recorded 16, Qazigund 17, Pahalgam 13, Kupwara 6 and Kokernag 11 centimetres of snow.
The official added that weather conditions in Kashmir will remain the same for the next twenty-four hours.
People in Srinagar had a difficult time finding transport to reach their destinations on Monday. Those who did not find transport looked for other options like hitching lifts from passing cars and bikes and travelling on foot.
Ieshan Khan, a resident of Chanpora, told Kashmir Reader that he came to city centre Lal Chowk by foot because of the non-availability of transport. “There was not enough public transport available today, so I had no other option than to travel bynfoot in order to reach office,” he said, adding that the buses that passed him during the walk were full of commuters.
Snowfall in Srinagar and its outskirts created bumper-to-bumper traffic through the day. Several people claimed to have seen minor collisions at many places in the city.
Earlier in the day, three passengers were injured when a Sumo they were travelling in skidded off the road and turned turtle in Batpora-Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
The vehicle was on its way to Srinagar when it met with the accident due to the slippery roads. The injured were rushed to a Srinagar hospital.
A pregnant lady from Matigawran in Kokernag area of Anantnag district was taken to Primary Health Centre Larnoo by the police after a telephone call conveyed the information to SSP Anantnag and SDPO Kokernag “wherefrom, after seeking guidance, police party of Police station Larnoo, led by SHO Inspector Bashir Ahmad, proceeded towards Matigawran for the rescue”, a police statement said.
The statement claimed that since the road was either too dilapidated or snow-covered, the police party managed to reach the spot after covering almost 15 kilometres on foot. They then transported the pregnant lady in a police vehicle from Matigawran to Primary Health Centre Larnoo and thereby saved two precious lives.
People from several areas complained of the non-availability of electricity since morning, including in various parts of Srinagar city. In Qazigund, resident Sabiya Khan, told Kashmir Reader that their area had been out of electricity ever since it snowed. “We have been waiting for electricity, and it seems the concerned authorities have failed to restore power in our area,” she said.
Chief Engineer Power Development Department Shahnaz Goni told Kashmir Reader that 225 out of 245 receiving stations were restored by power department. She said that she was providing details as per reports she received till 2 pm. She said that her entire team was out to restore power in all areas.
An official of the Mechanical Engineering Department told Kashmir Reader that they started snow clearance operations from 6 am. The official said that the department had cleared the snow from all district routes along the road widening. “We don’t have any report that any of the priority roads are unclear,” the official said, adding, “Snow clearing operations on Priority Two roads, like that of PMGSY, are still on.”