Fresh snowfall hampers efforts to re-open highway

Fresh snowfall hampers efforts to re-open highway
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Stranded vehicles to be allowed to ply in wake of weather improvement

Banihal/Jammu: A fresh spell of snowfall hampered efforts to reopen the Jammu-Srinagar highway which remained closed for the sixth consecutive day on Saturday, officials said. The continuous closure of the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, has left hundreds of passengers stranded in Banihal and Jammu.
“The road clearance operation was going on in full swing and it was expected that the road will be made traffic worthy by Saturday evening. However, heavy snowfall started around noon and is still going on, hampering the efforts,” a traffic department official said.
He said that about three inches of fresh snowfall had accumulated on the ground at Jawahar Tunnel while its peripheral areas experienced over one feet of snow.
Snow coupled with rains also lashed the Banihal-Raman stretch of the highway, forcing suspension of the road clearance operation at areas hit by landslides, including Anokhi Fall and Maroog, he said.
He added that shooting stones from hillocks overlooking the highway were also falling at certain places.
He said the road clearance operation would be restarted once the weather improves.
Meanwhile, the stranded passengers staged protest demonstrations at Udhampur and Jammu bus stands, demanding that they be airlifted to Srinagar.
“There are no arrangements from the government for our stay and we are also running short of money. Like yesteryears, the governor’s administration should intervene and make arrangements for our airlifting,” said Ghulam Mustafa Dar, a resident of Baramulla district.
However, late on Saturday evening some of the stranded vehicles around Jawahar Tunnel were allowed to pass.