The Srinagar-Jammu highway continued to remain closed for the second consecutive day Friday despite significant improvement in weather conditions across Jammu and Kashmir, even as fresh snowfall disrupted life in scores of areas in the Chenab Valley and the Pir Panjal areas.
“The highway is closed,” superintendent of traffic police, (rural), Muzaffer Ahmad Shah told Greater Kashmir.
“There have been fresh landslides on the road,” he said.
Apart from fresh snowfall, Shah said, landslides hit the highway in the Pantiyal-Battery Cheshma-Ramban sector.
“The road clearance work is going on at several places but shooting stones are hampering the clearance operation,” he said, asserting that while they are trying to re-open the highway “but chances of its immediate opening seem to be bleak”.
As and when the road will be re-opened, only stranded traffic will be allowed to move in the first go, the SP said.
Traffic on the highway was suspended again Thursday morning due to fresh snowfall on both sides of the Jawahar tunnel, Shaitan nallah and Banihal, and also due to rains in Ramban area.
An official said the Banihal-Ramban stretch, particularly Aknokhi fall, Digdol and Pantiyal areas, is badly affected due to landslides and shooting stones.
The National Highway Authority of India and the Border Roads Organisation are already on job to clear the road, he said.
An official source said 1500 trucks and 1300 other vehicles, including those carrying passengers, are stranded at different places on the highway.
Inclement weather has led to closure of the highway many times this winter, leading to shortage of essential supplies to the Valley.
Meanwhile, fresh snowfall occurred in Kashmir early Friday morning.
“There was light to moderate snowfall in the Valley and rain in Jammu division in the past 24 hours”, a meteorological department official said, adding that “weather improved from Friday afternoon”.
The official said that due to a cloud cover, the minimum temperatures hovered around zero degree Celsius in Kashmir.
Srinagar recorded minus 0.5 degree Celsius, Pahalgam minus 3.6 degree Celsius and Gulmarg minus 7.6 degree Celsius.
Leh recorded minus 6 degree Celsius, Kargil and Drass minus 16.8 degree Celsius, Jammu 8.1 degree Celsius, Katra 5.4 degree Celsius, Batote minus 1.6 degree Celsius, Bannihal minus 0.5 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah minus 0.4 degree Celsius.
SNOW DISRUPTS LIFE IN CHENAB VALLEY, PIR PANJAL
Fresh snowfall in the Chenab Valley areas of Jammu province Friday led to closure of the Batote-Kishtwar and Pul Doda-Bhadarwah highways, causing huge inconvenience to hundreds of commuters.
A senior traffic police official said fresh snowfall occurred in Nashri and Batote along the Batote-Kishtwar highway and also from Bhalla to Bhaderwah on the Doda-Basholi highway during the previous night.
He said one feet of snow had accumulated on the road from Nashri tunnel to Batote and 1.5 feet at Bhaderwah on the Pul Doda-Bhadarwah highway.
“All types of vehicular traffic has been suspended for safety of the passengers. The road clearance operation would be started immediately after the snowfall stops,” said Zuhaib Hassan, deputy superintendent of traffic police, Batote-Kishtwar sector.
He said those who intend to travel are “advised not to undertake the journey before contacting our control rooms in Srinagar, Doda and Jammu”.
The traffic on all major link roads including Thathri-Gandoh, Bhadarwah-Chinchora, Bhadarwah-Thanhala, Kishtwar-Chatroo, Doda-Marmat, Doda-Dessa, Doda-Gundana and Bhadarwah-Mathola was also suspended.
Meanwhile, the local meteorological office at Gupt Ganga, Bhadarwah, has forecast improvement in weather from Saturday afternoon.
“The weather conditions will start improving from tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon and from Sunday onwards the weather would remain dry for some days,” said, regional analyst at the office, Ramesh Sharma.
A three-storey residential house collapsed due to heavy snowfall in Gandoh Bhallesa area of Doda district on Friday.
According to ASP Bhaderwah Rajinder Singh, the house of Munwar Din Jumma, a resident of Ichair, Gandoh Bhallesa, got damaged when its roof collapsed following heavy snowfall in the area.
“Head of the family received minor injuries in incident but other family members were safely evacuated by locals,” the ASP said.
Heavy snowfall has thrown life out of gear in scores of areas in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu province.
According to witnesses, Kotranka, Budhal and Khawas areas of Rajouri and Saujiyan and Loran areas in Poonch are worst-affected due to snowfall and consequent closure of roads.
More than one feet of snow has accumulated in Kotranka and Budhal, they said, disrupting movement of traffic, supply of electricity and several water supply schemes.
Many water supply pipes in these areas have frozen while electricity transmission lines have developed snags, said a group of local residents.
The traffic on Rajouri-Kotranka road remained suspended till 1pm Friday after which a snow clearance operation was launched to restore the road for one-way traffic, the residents said.
Despite clearing the road for one-way traffic, its slippery condition made it difficult for vehicles to ply smoothly.
Similarly, people from Budhal said that traffic on a vital link road to the district headquarters remained completely suspended from Thursday evening. Also, the Kotranka-Kehwas road is closed due to snow and its slippery condition.
The Thanamandi-Surankote road via DKG remained closed for the third consecutive day Friday following accumulation of over three-foot snow at DKG Pass.
“Even if the weather improves, we don’t expect this road to be functional for at least four to five days,” said Jahangir Ahmed, a resident of Thanamandi.
Deputy commissioner Rajouri Muhammad Aijaz Assad confirmed traffic disruption on Kotranka, Budhal and Khawas roads.
Meanwhile, cold wave conditions coupled with rains Friday affected normal life in all parts of Poonch district, with Loran and Saujiyan areas in Mandi tehsil worst-affected following accumulation of two-and-a-half feet of snow in its several villages.
In several higher reaches of Surankote tehsil, power supply was badly affected following snowfall, a group of local residents said.
Deputy commissioner Poonch Rahul Yadav said there are reports of partial damage to a few houses and cattle sheds in Poonch district due to snowfall “but no loss of human life or livestock was reported so far”.