Jammu-Srinagar Highway reopens for one-way traffic after heavy snowfall

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Banihal/Jammu: The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all weather road linking the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, was reopened for one-way traffic Sunday afternoon, officials said.

The highway was closed on Saturday due to heavy snowfall and landslides.

A snow clearance operation along the Jawahar tunnel and Qazigund and Banihal-Ramban stretches was launched at around 5 am on Sunday morning and it took almost nine hours for workers to clear the road for one-way traffic, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ramban, Anita Sharma told PTI.

She said over 300 stranded passengers, including tourists, who were evacuated during a late night rescue operation across the Jawahar tunnel and brought to Banihal, were allowed to move towards Jammu.

The preference is being given to the stranded vehicles and once these are cleared, the traffic would be allowed from Srinagar to Jammu, Sharma said, adding that the snow clearance operation was still continuing at the affected areas.

The traffic on the highway is plying alternatively from the twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu since early last month to facilitate smooth movement of vehicles after commuters complained of traffic snarls.

The 270-km highway was closed for vehicular traffic on Saturday evening after heavy snowfall in Qazigund-Jawahar tunnel sector coupled with landslides at Pantiyal, Ramsoo, Digdol and Battery cheshma along Banihal-Ramban stretch due to incessant rains.

A rescue operation was launched after information was received that a large number of passenger vehicles were stranded in avalanche prone areas on the other side of the Jawahar tunnel on Saturday night.

Over 300 Jammu-bound passengers were rescued from the Kashmir side of the Jawahar tunnel and the Verinag Zing area, where more than one feet of snow had accumulated on the ground.

All the rescued passengers were brought to Banihal and provided accommodation inside shelter sheds, hotels, sarais and religious places.

Meanwhile, the snow clearance operation was also started along the Mughal road, connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu with south Kashmir Shopian district.

About four feet of snow had accumulated on the ground in Peer Ki Gali area over the past couple of days. Over 120 people, mostly truckers, were rescued after they got stranded in the high altitude area on Saturday.

“The snow clearance operation was started this afternoon following improvement in the weather. We are on the job and efforts are on to ensure early restoration of the road which usually remains closed during winter owing to heavy snowfall in Peer Ki Gali area,” Deputy Superintendent of police (traffic) Mohammad Rafiq said.