Banihal/Jammu: Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with the outside world, reopened for stranded vehicles Saturday after remaining closed for three consecutive days owing to multiple landslides in Ramban district, officials said.
The highway was closed on Thursday evening after the arterial road was blocked by landslides triggered by heavy rains at several places between Panthiyal and Ramsu, leaving more than 1,000 vehicles including passenger vehicles and Kashmir-bound trucks carrying essential commodities stranded at different places.
The officials said the road clearance operation at Panthiyal, Cafetaria morh and Mehar was speeded up with improvement in the weather on Saturday morning and after several hours of hectic efforts, the road was cleared for stranded vehicles late afternoon.
The iron and steel tunnel at Panthiyal was almost completely damaged by the shooting stones from the hillock overlooking the highway, the officials said.
They said hundreds of stranded passengers were provided food and shelter by the Ramban district administration.
“Only the stranded vehicles were allowed to move towards their destinations after the road clearance agencies cleared the debris and made the road traffic worthy,” a traffic department official said.
He said the fresh traffic from the twin capitals is likely to be restored on Sunday morning, depending on the road condition. However, there will be one-way restrictions on the heavy motor vehicles plying on the highway.
Meanwhile, an Army official said the Army evacuated 34 sportspersons including Kickboxer champion Tajamul Islam from north Kashmir’s Bandipora from Panthiyal Friday night and arranged accommodation and food for them at Banihal.
Islam, who recently won a gold medal in the U-14 World Kickboxing Championship held in Cairo, Egypt, along with nine other girls, 13 boys and 11 officials and coaches from Haider Sports Academy were going to attend the national trials for kickboxing in Delhi’s Talkatora Indoor Stadium, the official said.
He said they got stuck near Panthiyal due to heavy rain and landslides and were noticed by an army patrol party. As soon as the sports faculty contacted the 12 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, a team went to evacuate them and to provide them with all necessary assistance.
All the sportspersons were thankful to the Army for their assistance, the official said.