Fresh snowfall in Kashmir as Chilai-Kalan ends

Parts of Kashmir received fresh snowfall as the 40-day-long Chilai-Kalan, the harshest winter period, ended Wednesday, even as chaotic traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway gave a tough time to thousands of commuters.
File Photo
File Photo

Parts of Kashmir received fresh snowfall as the 40-day-long Chilai-Kalan, the harshest winter period, ended Wednesday, even as chaotic traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway gave a tough time to thousands of commuters. 

The 270-km-long highway was reopened for one-way traffic after authorities cleared a fresh landslide that had struck in Ramban district late last night, superintendent of traffic police (rural) Muzaffer Ahmad Shah told Greater Kashmir.

He said the landslide had blocked the road at Anokhifall but after the road clearance operation was completed, the stranded vehicles were allowed to ply.

However, contesting the official claims that the road was open, several travellers told Greater Kashmir that hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the highway at different places and there is nobody to take care of them. Even travellers who reached Kashmir said it took them 18 hours to reach Srinagar from Jammu.

Several Jammu-bound passengers alleged that they had to return to Srinagar on Tuesday evening after waiting for more than eight hours at Qazigund due to snarls caused by traffic mismanagement between Banihal and Ramban areas.

The traffic on the highway usually moves from the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu alternatively, but heavy snowfall, multiple landslides and shooting stones forced the closure of the highway for six days from January 21 and since then reports of chaos and confusion on the road keep pouring in almost every day. 

On Wednesday evening, the traffic police department cited an advisory issued by the Met department and said chances of heavy snowfall and rain in J&K may lead to disruption on the highway.

"Therefore", it said, "a decision regarding the vehicular movement on Jammu-Srinagar highway shall be taken tomorrow (on 31.01.2019) after assessing the weather/road condition".

Earlier during the day, the highway was closed for a brief period at "Monkey Morh" at Maroog.

The most-vulnerable and landslide and shooting-stone prone areas from Sherbibi to Seri Ramban remained open, though shooting stones continued at Panthyal, Anokhifall and Battary Chasma, while a fresh landslide hit the road at Monkey Morh at around noon.

A private company entrusted with the job of highway maintenance of a particular stretch pressed its men and machinery into service to clear landslides and stones, officials said.

It took more than two hours to clear the Monkey-Morh landslide, an official at traffic control unit, Ramban, said.

Due to shooting stones between Ramsu and Ramban, especially at Panthyal, Battary Chasma and Anokhifall areas, all types of vehicles on the road remained stranded at Nachalana, Ramsu, Magarkote and Digdool till the stones were cleared.

The traffic on the road moved at a snail's pace, many commuters said.


Meanwhile, a Met department official said snow started in most parts of Kashmir on Wednesday.

"It was light and intermittent," he said, adding that during next 24 hours, there are likely chances of widespread light to moderate snowfall in the Valley.  

Srinagar recorded 0.8mm snow/rain, Qazigund got traces, Pahalgam 4.0mm, Kupwara 2.0mm, Kokernag 2.0 mm and Gulmarg 3.2mm.

The divisional administration has issued a fresh avalanche warning for avalanche-prone districts of Kashmir division, including Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.

The Met official said the minimum temperature in Srinagar Tuesday night settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, four degrees up from the previous night.

Qazigund recorded a low of minus 2 degree Celsius, while Kokernag town registered a low of minus 3.4 degree Celsius Tuesday night.

The mercury in Kupwara settled at minus 2.2 degree Celsius compared to Tuesday night's low of minus 7.8 degree Celsius.

The ski-resort of Gulmarg in northern Baramulla district recorded a low of minus 7.5 degree Celsius Tuesday night, rising significantly from the previous night's minus 12.2 degree Celsius, while tourist resort of Pahalgam in southern Kashmir recorded a low of minus 3.3 degree Celsius, 10-degree rise over the previous night.

Jammu, the official said, recorded a low of 7.7 degree Celsius, compared to the previous night's 4.1 degree Celsius.

Banihal recorded a minimum of 0.7 degree Celsius, Batote 1.2 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah in Doda district 0.6 degree Celsius.

(With MM Parvaiz in Ramban)

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