Jammu-Srinagar highway opens for traffic

Srinagar: Following the improvement in the weather conditions in the valley, the Jammu-Srinagar national highway was reopened for traffic on Tuesday, with over 200 vehicles including 55 carrying passengers leaving Banihal town for Kashmir, officials said.

The 300-km arterial road, the only all weather link between the valley with the rest of the country, was closed for vehicular traffic on Monday after various parts of the highway including Jawahar Tunnel -– the gateway to Kashmir -– experienced about two feet of snow.

Snowfall, coupled with landslides and shooting stones triggered by incessant rains at several places including Panthyal, Ramsoo and Anokhifal, forced the closure of the highway, leaving over 800 trucks and passenger vehicles stranded.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (National Highway) Vishal Manhas said over 200 vehicles including 55 passenger vehicles stranded at Banihal were allowed towards Kashmir after the Qazigund-Banihal stretch was cleared of snow this afternoon.

However, a landslide at Nashri this morning slowed down the clearance operation but the agencies concerned cleared the road after hectic efforts.

“No vehicle was allowed from either Srinagar or Jammu for the second day today,” he said, adding a decision to reopen the road for traffic tomorrow will be taken once the stranded vehicles are cleared.

Snowfall, ranging between five inches to two feet, was reported in the high altitude areas of Jammu region, while the winter capital and other plains were lashed by incessant rain yesterday and through the night resulting in drop in the mercury.

Banihal and Ramban along the highway and Bhaderwah in Doda district recorded sub-zero temperature after fresh snowfall, while Katra which houses the famous Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine recorded a low of 5 degrees Celsius.

The minimum temperature dropped to minus 1.1 degrees Celsius in Banihal, and minus 1.6 in Ramban and Bhaderwah district. However, Jammu city recorded a low of 8.7 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s 10.5 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the MeT office said.

The snowfall has, to a large extent, addressed the concerns of the residents, who were worried over the extended dry spell in winter.

Kashmir received its first major snowfall of this season on Monday after over a two-month-long dry spell.

Meanwhile, the air traffic from Srinagar airport which was also suspended following the snowfall in the valley resumed today following the improvement in visibility at the airport.

“Srinagar Airport has reported visibility 6000m and temperature zero ://degree. No  snowfall and slight rainfall expected. All flights will be operating as per schedule,” Official twitter handle of the airport said.   (With inputs from PTI)

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