Highway remains closed for 5th day, stranded passengers cry for help

Highway remains closed for 5th day, stranded passengers cry for help

Met department predicts another spell of snow, rains from Tuesday

The chances of re-opening of the Srinagar-Jammu highway which remained closed for the fifth consecutive day are bleak as massive landslides hit the road on Sunday, officials said, even as the local meteorological department predicted another three-day-long spell of snow and rains from Tuesday evening.

“We could not re-open the road today,” inspector general of traffic police Alok Kumar told Greater Kashmir. 

He said a 150-meter-long massive landslide hit the road at Maroog.  The highway was closed Wednesday following landslides triggered by incessant rains and snowfall across Jammu and Kashmir. 

Due to the continuous closure of the road—the only surface link of Kashmir with rest of the world—supplies of essentially have run short in the landlocked Valley.

On Friday, major landslides struck the road at Peeda, Sherbibi, Digdole, Maroog, Anokhifall, Pantiyal, Nashri, KhuniNallah and Gangroo, an official said. These landslides, however, were cleared later. 

An official source said over 3000 vehicles, including trucks carrying essential commodities, are stranded on the highway for the past more than a week. 

Thousands of Kashmir-bound passengers are also stranded in Jammu due to the closure of the highway.

A traffic police official said snow clearance operation was completed from Banihal to Qazigund, but the Ramsoo-Ramban stretch is still dotted with massive debris of landslides. 

“The clearance operation however continues on war-footing,” he said, and added until the road clearance operation is fully over, traffic will not be allowed to ply on the 264 km-long highway.

Officials at the national highway authority of India (NHAI) and the Border Roads Organisation—responsible for maintenance of the highway—are working round-the-clock to make the highway traffic-worthy. 

However, they said, frequent landslides and shooting stones are occurring at several places between Ramban and Ramsu.

Meanwhile, the local weather department Sunday predicted a three-day spell of rains and snow in Jammu and Kashmir from February 13.

“We are expecting another spell of rains in plains and snowfall over higher reaches of Jammu, Kashmir and parts of Ladakh region from February 13-15,” said Sonam Lotus, director of meteorological department, Srinagar.

He said the spell, however, would be of lower intensity with low snow accumulation than the one seen recently.

“Light snow on western parts of Jammu and Kashmir may commence on 12 February late night or February 13 early morning and will increase in intensity and distribution thereafter. Looks like, this will be followed by another spell around 18 to 19 February,” Lotus said.

He said the onset of winter in J&K this year was ahead of its normal time as the region received very heavy snowfall in the first week of November.

This was followed by frequent strong western disturbances hitting the region in January and February, leading to excess winter precipitation over the state, Lotus said.

Most of the weather models are showing frequent spells of WDs across February, which means more precipitation in coming weeks, the weatherman said.