Srinagar, Dec 12 : The national highway, the only road connecting Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh region with the Kashmir valley, was closed for winter months due to fresh snowfall and slippery road conditions following below freezing temperature.
Meanwhile, several hundred vehicles, mostly trucks, stranded at Sonamarg on this side of the Zojila pass on the highway, will be allowed to return to Srinagar. There was fresh snowfall since Tuesday night on the highway, particularly at Sonamarg, Zojila, Zero Point and Meenmarg, forcing authorities to suspend traffic again on Wednesday. Traffic on the highway was restored recently after remaining closed since November 6 due to heavy snowfall and avalanches, official sources told UNI this morning. They said stranded vehicles at Zojila and other places were cleared. However, later a team of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) headed by Chief Engineer, civil and police officials visited Zojila and other areas on the highway which remained frozen in the morning due to sub zero temperature during the night.
It was decided to close the highway for winter months since it was very dangerous to allow traffic because of slippery road conditions. The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has issued an order last night to close the highway for winter months following fresh snowfall during the past 24 hours.
The authorities claimed that enough stock of essential commodities, including rice, atta, sugar, kerosene oil, petrol and diesel besides LPG cylinders, have been stored in different parts of the UT, including at Leh and Kargil.
This is the first winter in the region since Ladakh was granted UT status on August 5, when centre scrapped Article 370 and 35 A, besides divided the state into two UTs. The centre has already approved construction of tunnel at Zojila to make it all weather road. However, due to poor response fresh tenders were issued for construction of the tunnel and other works on the highway. (UNI)