Srinagar: The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was shut for traffic for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday in the wake of heavy snowfall over the past four days, even as the minimum temperature across the valley stayed below the freezing point, officials said.
The 260 kilometre-long highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country, was blocked by the accumulation of snow and landslides on Sunday.
“No fresh vehicle movement has been allowed on the highway today as well,” an official of the Traffic control room said.
He said men and machinery were on the job to clear the highway, but the road was still blocked at several places.
“The highway is blocked at Samrolli, Nashree, Cafeteria Morh, Seri, Marog and Jawahar Tunnel,” he said.
The official said once the highway was cleared, stranded traffic would be allowed to ply.
However, Mughal Road, the alternate road-link which connects the valley to Jammu Division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, was closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall in the region, he said.
The Kashmir Valley was cut-off from the rest of the country on Sunday as the surface and the aerial connections were suspended because of the heavy snowfall.
However, the air traffic to and fro the valley was restored on Thursday morning as flight operations took place at the Srinagar airport after four days.
The heavy snowfall threw life out of gear in the valley with the administration pressing men and machinery into service to clear the roads of snow. While most of the main roads have been cleared, many link roads were yet to be cleared, the officials said.
Power supply has also been restored at most places in the valley, they added.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological (MeT) office has said the weather is likely to remain mainly dry till January 14.
“The weather has improved and there is no forecast of any major snowfall till January 14,” a MeT official said.
He said the minimum temperature went down at most places in the valley and settled below the freezing point.
Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 8.4 degrees Celsius compared to minus 3.5 degrees Celsius a night earlier.
Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 1.7 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake here, as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’, which began on December 21, will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).