SRINAGAR/ JAMMU, Jan 16: Heavy snowfall in Kashmir and many parts of Jammu region led to closure of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and many inter-district roads besides disruption of air traffic at Srinagar Airport with weatherman forecasting more rains and snow over the next one week.
An official at Srinagar Airport told the Excelsior that all morning flights were cancelled today due to overnight snowfall but with the improvement in weather in the afternoon all flights operated. He said that 5 morning flights at the airport were cancelled, however, all nine afternoon flights operated after improvement in weather.
The train services were also suspended on Baramulla-Banihal section today after heavy snowfall. The decision was taken in view of the safety of the passengers and the trains, a senior official said.
Kashmir valley today woke up to fresh blanket of snow with South Kashmir witnessing heavy snowfall especially the areas in Pir Panjal Mountains South of Kashmir valley. The light snowfall started across Kashmir during night hours and continued till morning hours. Compared to Srinagar and North Kashmir, South Kashmir received heavy snowfall and affected the normal life.
The heavy snowfall led to blockage of roads connecting the villages and towns in different places of the Valley. The vehicular traffic, general public and patients were stuck on various roads especially in South Kashmir.
Authorities cleared snow from roads by afternoon in Srinagar while in South Kashmir majority of the areas were disconnected as it received heavy snowfall.
Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, was also closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall at various places including Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop areas.
The highway at Jawahar Tunnel received 1.5- 2 feet of snow, Nowgam 1.5 feet, Banihal one ft, Ramsoo 4 inches, Ramban 4 inches, Batote one ft, Patnitop 2 feet, Kud one feet and Chenani 4 inches.
The snowfall was continuing between Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop. Snow clearance process was on since early morning but fresh snow accumulation was creating hurdles in throwing the road open.
The highway was also closed due to slides at Peerah, Mehar, Marog, Battery Chashma, Anokhi Fall, Digdol and Khooni Nallah area. However, the road clearance operation was going on.
SSP Traffic, Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmad Lone told Excelsior that due to closure of the highway over 200 vehicles including 185 trucks and 33 passenger vehicles with 181passengers are stranded on the highway. He said that at Nowgam 7 trucks, at Tether 50 trucks and two passenger vehicles with 8 passengers, at Railway crossing Banihal 16 trucks and 7 passenger vehicles with 35 passengers, at Ramsoo 25 trucks and 3 passenger vehicles with 20 passengers, at Panthyal – Digdol ?amban 32 Trucks and 32 passenger vehicles, at ?amban 11 Trucks and 4 passenger vehicles with 16 passengers, at Peerah 12 Trucks and 7 Tata mobiles, at Champa Batote 32 Trucks and 6 passenger vehicles, with 35 passengers are stranded.
He said that National Highway will remain closed tomorrow for any fresh traffic, however, in case of improvement in weather and clearance of the National Highway the stranded vehicles will be cleared. He said
Meanwhiole, the rain and heavy snowfall has blocked Batote-Doda-Kishtwar and several link roads in Poonch, Rajouri and Reasi while Mata Vaishnodevi pilgrimage was disrupted for several hours due to heavy snowfall at Bhawan and track near Sanji Chhat today.
Helicopter service from Katra base camp to Mata Vaishnodevi shrine could not be operated due to bad weather and heavy snow near Shrine and Sanji Chhat.
Official sources said that due to heavy snowfall near Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal and Patnitop, Batote and Kud last night, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and Batote-Doda, Bhaderwah and Kishtwar roads was blocked.
At Mata Vaishnodevi shrine there was about 7-8 inch snow fall while at Hathimatha it was more than one and half feet snowfall. That route was closed for the pilgrimage. Due to snow fall the authorities suspended yatra for several hours due to slippery conditions but later it was resumed.
SSP Traffic National Highway Jammu Sanjay Kotwal said that, there was heavy snowfall in Patnitop and Jawahar tunnel area and the road could not be cleared. He said from Patnitop to Batote single line was cleared by this evening but no movement of the vehicles was allowed as road was very slippery.
Kotwal further said that in Banihal town and the area ahead of Nowgam up to Jawahar Tunnel also witnessed about two and two and half feet snowfall and many trucks were stranded on the road though the number of passenger vehicles was less. He said if the weather remained fair, by tomorrow one way highway would be restored. The first priority will be to clear the stranded vehicles. He said that road patch between Ramsoo and Banihal was slippery and not risky, therefore no movement of trucks or other vehicles was allowed on this patch today.
Meanwhile, life in the hilly regions came to a complete standstill, as entire Chenab region was greeted with fresh snowfall on Monday as Bhaderwah, Banihal, Kishtwar, Gandoh and other higher reaches received heavy snow, while Doda town, Ramban and Thathri received seasons first snowfall after several years thereby leaving entire Chrnab engulfed in white blanket.
The upper region of the Chenab are seeing even heavier snow and due to incessant snow, NH1A, NH1B and all the major link roads of district Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban have been closed for traffic movement. People are also facing problems due to non availability of potable water and electricity in most of the areas as power supply was snapped early in the morning at Bhaderwah, Gandoh and Banihal.
“In view of accumulation of 2ft snow and continuous heavy snowfall on Patnitop stretch, the authorities, considering the safety and security of passengers have decided to stop movement of all vehicles on the highway on temporary basis,” said DySP traffic NH1B Aftab Ahmed.
“We have also closed all the major link roads of district Doda and Kishtwar as till 10 am, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Gandoh, Doda and Goha have recorded 2ft,1.2ft, 1.5ft, 4 inches, 1.5ft of snow, respectively. Since early morning we have not allowed any vehicles to move from their respective places,” Officer added saying that commuters should consult our control rooms before planning their journey.
Meanwhile, scores of candidates from Chenab region, who have to appear in Service Selection Commission (SSC) examinations tomorrow at Jammu got stuck at their respective places and are demanding that the written test should be postponed.
Reports from Poonch said that Mandi-Loran, Mandi- Saujian, Surankote-Bafliaz and Baflaiz-Dera Gali-Thannmandi roads have been closed due to heavy snowfall. The traffic on Jammu-Poonch highway also affected for several hours in the morning due to snowfall at Bhimber Gali. However, Army authorities cleared the road and helped restoring traffic. Rajouri-Kotranka-Budhal road was also closed to snowfall last night.
Reports from Reasi and Udhampur said that due to heavy snowfall this time, Mahore-Sungari -Chasana, Mahore -Gulabgarh and Mahore- Gool roads were closed. Heavy snow has also been witnessed in Dudu, Basatngarh, Lati, Ganth Top, Pancheri Landhar in Udhampur besides Bani-Sarthal, Loang, Lohari Malhar and Machedi area as well in district Kathua. Basohli-Bani road at Kardoh was blocked due to heavy snow today and till evening it could not be restored. In entire sub division the power supply has also been snapped due to breaking of electric poles, SDM Bani Ajit Singh said.
With the heavy snowfall, temperature gone down in plain areas of Jammu. The rain further affected the normal life in the city. The weather improved in the afternoon but entire region is under the grip of cold wave.
Meanwhile, Sub Divisional Magistrate Karnah today issued an avalanche warring and has asked the people of the Division not to venture on Karnah- Kupwara road during next 36 hours.
“People living in Jabdi, Amrohie, Jadda, Semari and other adjoining villages should not to venture in avalanche prone areas. People can also approach SDM Office or Police station for help”, the SDM said.
Srinagar recorded minus 0.9 degrees Celsius today as the night’s lowest temperature. The minimum temperature was minus 8 degrees Celsius in Gulmarg today while it was minus 3.2 degrees Celsius in Pahalgam.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 1.2 degree Celsius, Kokernag a minimum of minus 2.7 degree Celsius, Kupwara a minimum of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, Leh a minimum of minus 10.1 degree Celsius and Kargil a minimum of minus 4.8 degree Celsius.
Jammu recorded a minimum of 7.3 degree Celsius, Katra 3.8 degree Celsius, Banihal 0.0 degree Celsius, Batote minus 0.7 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah minus 1.1 degree Celsius.
Srinagar recorded a maximum of 4.6 degree Celsius, Qazigund 8.5 degree Celsius, Pahalgam 2.4 degree Celsius, Kokernag 4.2 degree Celsius, Kupwara 1.7 degree Celsius, Gulmarg minus 3.6 degree Celsius, Leh 1.5 degree Celsius and Kargil minus 1.8 degree Celsius.
Jammu recorded a maximum of 14 degree Celsius, Katra 10.1 degree Celsius, Banihal 3.5 degree Celsius, Batote 2.8 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah 2.0 degree Celsius.
A Police spokesman said that Jammu and Kashmir Police provided helping hand in South, Central and North Kashmir by restoring the blocked roads after heavy snowfall in the valley.
“After heavy snowfall, the roads leading to hospitals and connecting the villages and towns were blocked at different places of the valley. The vehicular traffic, general public and patients were stuck on roads and hospitals. Jammu and Kashmir Police which is always ready to help the public and deal with any situation, swung into action and cleared roads leading to different hospitals, villages and towns in Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Awantipora, Budgam, Bandipora, Lolab Kupwara and Qazigund. The roads were cleared and the traffic was made through”, he said.