Srinagar, Jan 24: The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday due to closure of 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway following fresh snowfall, landslides and shooting stones.
Over 2,000 Kashmir-bound trucks have been halted at Udhampur since January 21, Inspector General of Police (Traffic) said.
Meanwhile, the national highway, connecting Ladakh region with Kashmir and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained closed due to accumulation of several feet of snow which has now frozen due to below freezing point temperature.
Several inches of snowfall accumulated on both sides of the Jawahar tunnel, Nasri and Shaitan Nallah and Qazigund as it was snowing since Wednesday, a traffic police official said. It was snowing since Thursday morning, he added.
The official said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for the maintenance of the highway are making all out efforts to restore traffic.
There was a huge avalanche, causing damage to one door of Jawahar tunnel, where several feet of snow had accumulated since January 21. However, the BRO has placed into service sophisticated machines and men and cleared snow on the highway between Banihal and Qazigund, he said adding all the vehicles, which were stranded at several places on this stretch, were allowed to move towards Kashmir on Thursday.
Rainfall was witnessed in Ramban and Ramsu, leading to landslides at six to seven places, particularly at Penthal, Battery Cheshma, Digdol and Anokhifall. Trees were also uprooted in some areas.
The NHAI also put into service sophisticated machine to clear landslides and big boulders between Ramban and Ramsu. Shooting stones and landslides, triggered by rain, continued even on Thursday morning.
A driver of a vehicle clearing landslides was injured after hit by a stone in Ramban area.
Meanwhile, passengers stranded at Ramban, alleged that they were not being provided any facility by the local administration. “We have to take shelter in local Mosques where local people have made arrangements,” a passenger Abdul Hamid told UNI over phone.
Hundreds of Kashmiris, including women and children, are stranded at Jammu. “We are staying in Jammu bus stand for the past four days,” the agitated passengers said alleging that government has totally failed to make any arrangements for them.
“We have now no money to stay in hotels,” they said adding the rent has been increased after the highway was closed.
He said five-km-long stretch between Ramban and Banihal was badly affected due to landslides and shooting stones.
Meanwhile, large number of trucks loaded with fruit and empty oil tankers have been stopped at Qazigund for the past four days.
The national highway, linking the Ladakh region with Kashmir, remained closed due to accumulation of snow which has now frozen for the past about two months. Fresh snowfall was also received at Sonamarg, Zojila pass, Zero point and Meenmarg on the highway, traffic spokesman said adding the road between Kargil, the border town on the highway, to Leh was through. The road is likely to reopen in March or April.
The historic 86-km-long Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region also received fresh snowfall during the past 24 hours. The road is closed for the past two months due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition.
Anantnang to Kishtwar road also remained closed due to accumulation of snow. (UNI)