Sgr-Jammu highway shut for 6th day today but airport now open; PK Pole says all services will be restored by today evening
Srinagar: Power supply in most of Kashmir was restored but roads still lay under snow even in Srinagar on Thursday. The divisional administration said that all essential services were expected to be restored completely by Friday across Kashmir.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained shut for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday but flights resumed after four days at Srinagar Airport, bringing relief to thousands of passengers, especially tourists, stranded in Kashmir.
The heavy snowfall over the past few days has left normal life crippled across Kashmir valley. The movement of vehicles was thin on the roads due to the slippery conditions created by snow. People in Srinagar city complained that even after so much time, no robust work of snow clearance was visible anywhere in the city, with the lanes and bylanes wearing the same odd look of accumulated snow on Thursday.
“This careless approach of administration here has put us at huge inconvenience during the past few days. Even today, the ways leading to our homes are full of snow. Thankfully, the roads have been restored after two days. If a proper mechanism and strategy would have been in place earlier, this sort of situation could have been avoided,” said Burhan Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar’s downtown.
During the day in Srinagar, no smooth movement of traffic was seen on roads as commuters faced hardships due to the frequent traffic jams arising out of limited space cleared of snow for the movement of vehicles.
Hundreds of passengers, mostly tourists, were seen walking for kilometers to reach the airport on Thursday, apparently to overcome the hurdle of long queue of traffic jams on the road leading towards the Srinagar Airport.
Although the main roads of Srinagar city were cleared of snow and traffic was seen plying on Thursday, the locals complained that most of the lanes and bylanes remained out of reach, leaving private vehicles confined to where they were parked.
Residents of Nowpora area of Safakadal in Srinagar were seen clearing the snow from the road with shovels.
In districts of south Kashmir, the snowfall has cut off several villages or left the roads unfit for vehicles to move on. Residents said that even the main towns are struggling with the snow on the roads.
“We haven’t seen any proper snow clearance machine here in the past few days, expect a JCB which made two rounds over three days and was of no help to us. The roads are highly slippery and no one wants to risk themselves. We can only travel on foot,” said Muneer Ahmad, a resident of Kapran village in Verinag, Anantnag district.
While the first casualty of snowfall across Kashmir usually remains the electricity, people this time were seen hailing the efforts of the power department for timely restoration of electricity supply in different parts of Kashmir valley, except in a few areas of south Kashmir which has received heavy snowfall of about four to five feet.
Several people have also taken to social media to express their gratitude and appreciation towards the line men of the power department who worked tirelessly to restore power supply within a short span of time, which otherwise used to remain defunct for many days.
Officials said that currently there is no major power breakdown anywhere in Kashmir and by Thursday almost 95% of the power supply had been restored in the valley. Due to the heavy snowfall, officials said, more than 400 transformers were damaged across Kashmir valley, of which 70 have been replaced.
“We have restored 95% of electricity across Kashmir valley. In central and north Kashmir, 90% of power supply has been restored while as in south Kashmir, 80%-85% of power supply has been restored by Thursday evening. The work is going on and rest of the supply will be restored in the next two days,” the Chief Engineer, Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL), Ajaz Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
He added that in Kashmir valley, out of 951 11KV feeders, 50 feeders are defunct while of the 115 33KV feeders, 2 feeders are defunct due to the damage caused by heavy snowfall. About the delayed restoration in south Kashmir areas, he said that most of the villages are inaccessible and the line men have to walk on foot to restore the supply in such areas.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole told Kashmir Reader that the divisional administration was ensuring complete restoration of essential services including roads, transport, electricity and water supply across Kashmir valley by Friday.
He informed that all the main roads including roads leading to tehsil and blocks of Kashmir valley were cleared of snow and traffic was normally plying on them. “All the main roads across Kashmir valley have been cleared of snow and traffic is plying on them normally. Some far-flung villages of south Kashmir especially in Kulgam are still under snow. Efforts are on there, too, and the roads will be restored by Friday evening. Of the 270 villages of Shopian district, snow has been cleared in 250 villages and the clearance work in the rest is going on,” he said.
The power supply, he said, was functional in almost all parts of Kashmir valley except few areas of south Kashmir. There wasn’t any problem in the availability of water supply in Kashmir on Thursday, he said. “The supply of electricity is intact across Kashmir valley except few areas of south Kashmir, which too will be restored by tomorrow. All the affected lines stand restored till Thursday,” he said.
Pole said that 35 JCBs were put in place for snow clearance while two thousand workers of SMC and other departments were working round the clock to ensure speedy clearance of lanes and bylanes in Srinagar.
“This has been the heaviest snowfall in the past many years. It took lot of effort and energy, along with men and machinery. The administration was already geared up but the heavy snowfall demanded extra men and machinery. Each and every staff on the ground has been working 14 hours daily in the past few days, while the officers have been personally monitoring the situation on the ground. In Shopian and Kulgam districts, a few employees have even been left injured while battling the snowfall,” Pole said.
According to weather officials, minimum temperatures dipped across Kashmir valley on Thursday. Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 0.8 degree Celsius and maximum of 6.7 degree Celsius. Qazigund recorded a minimum temperature of minus 0.2 degree Celsius and maximum temperature of 3.1 degree Celsius.
Gulmarg recorded a minimum of minus 8.4 degree Celsius and maximum of only minus 0.6 degree Celsius on Thursday, as against the recorded minimum temperature of minus 3.5 degree Celsius on Wednesday. Pahalgam recorded a minimum of minus 2.5 and a maximum of 2.2 degree Celsius on Thursday.
Kupwara recorded a maximum temperature of 9.7 degree Celsius and minus 1.7 degree Celsius as minimum temperature.
Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway continues to remain suspended. The traffic department said on Thursday that there will be no traffic allowed to move from Srinagar towards Jammu and vice versa on Friday due to landslides and shooting stones at several places. “No traffic tomorrow, in the view of the landslides and shooting stones at Samroli, Cafeteria Morh and slippery condition of road from Jawahar Tunnel to Zig (Qazigund),” it said.
The weather office has predicted the weather to remain dry across Kashmir valley till next week, up to Thursday.