* Chopper service to Mata Vaishnodevi suspended, new track closed
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Feb 5: Heavy rain, snowfall, wind and thunderstorm caused havoc in Kashmir and many parts of Jammu as the roof tops of over 180 houses were uprooted in Doda and Ramban areass, two persons were killed in Mahore area of Reasi and Bhunjwan area of Kishtwar while fresh land slides overn-ight blocked Jammu -Srinagar National Highway, Batote-Doda-Kishtwar and many other roads in the region.
Kashmir received fresh snowfall today throwing life out of gear with water logging on roads and major power shutdowns in many parts. The higher reaches of the region received heavy snowfall overnight while the plains witnessing a mix of rains and snow. The air traffic at Srinagar was partially disrupted as some morning flights were cancelled. However, the afternoon flights operated normally.
With the overnight heavy rain in the entire Jammu region, fresh land slides atleast at eight places between Udhampur and Banihal, blocked the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. About 5000 vehicles have been stranded along the National Highway at various places. About 1500 trucks in Udhampur and Dhar Road area up to Manwal and about equally number, have been stranded at Nagrota By-pass Road near Jammu. The truck drivers were facing lot of difficulties of food and water after being stranded for the last four days.
Many rivers and streams including Tawi, Basantar and Ujh were over flooded in the morning while chopper service to Mata Vaishnodevi from Katra base camp remained suspended throughout the day today. The Shrine Board authorities Closed new yatra track after landslides at 2-3 places during early hours today while the old track was opened for the pilgrims. Several flights to Jammu airport were delayed during morning hours but all the flights operated, SSP Anti-Hijacking Rajesh Bali said.
A sharp fall of nearly 6 degree Celsius has been recorded in the day temperature of Jammu city which witnessed 36.8 mm rainfalls since last evening. Srinagar recorded a rainfall of 61.6 mm while Udhampur 52.2 mm and Doda 40.3 mm during past 24 hours.
IG Traffic, SA Watali told the Excelsior that fresh landslides took place at Kheri near Udhampur, another near Nashri in Batote area, Mehar near main Chenab bridge at Ramban and others at Seri, Ghangroo, Digdol, Panthial, Battery Chashama and Maroog. He said that due to continuous rain the restoration work could not be carried out between Ramban and Banihal while highway near Udhampur and Nashri was cleared during the day.
Watali further disclosed that Batote- Doda-Kishtwar road was also blocked due to land slides at three places in Assar and Khellani areas but during afternoon these slides were cleared. Only some stranded light vehicles were cleared on this road while road is still closed for heavy vehicles including passenger buses. He said if the weather remained fair tomorrow, the Batote- Doda- Kishtwar road will be opened for traffic on both the sides while there is no scope of opening of Jammu-Srinagar highway even tomorrow.
The IGP disclosed that about 3000 vehicles were stranded at Nagrota-Jammu and Udhampur and Dhar road while around 2000 on that side of the Jawahar Tunnel from Lower Munda to Qazigund and Khannabal. He said that tomorrow, HCC, BRO and National Highway authorities will start road clearance work and it is expected to clear highway by tomorrow afternoon if the weather improved. He said no movement of any type of vehicles (LMV or Heavy) will be allowed either from Jammu or the Srinagar side tomorrow on Highway.
Reports from Doda said that tin roof tops of about 150 houses/ schools in Bhaderwah and nearly 30 in Ramban area were damaged / uprooted due to strong wind storm last night. In Mahu- Mangat and Rajgarh area of Ramban, also about thirty such houses and two Government schools have suffered damages. The district administration claimed that tomorrow the Revenue/ Police teams will be sent to the area.
A 13-year old-boy Mohd Yasin was killed after a big deodar tree fell on their kucha house at Patnazi in Bhunjwan area of Kishtwar district last night. Two other family members of Noor Mai, however, survived with minor injuries. Police said strong wind was blowing amidst rains that time when the incident took place. The locals of the area and police removed the body from the debris after long efforts. The power supply to many areas of Bhaderwah and Doda has been snapped.
Another report from Reasi said that Reasi- Mahore, Mahore -Gool-Ramban and Mahore- Chassana – Budhal roads were closed due to massive landslides last night. A villager died in Kotli Channa area near Balmatkote in Mahore when he was returning home. It was raining and a small bounder from the hill top apparently hit him. He fell down into a gorge and died. Identified as Karnail Singh, son of Diwan Singh of Balmatkote, he was working in Health department.
Due to rain and snowfall at higher reaches, Dudu-Basantgarh-Majouri Ram-nagar road has also been closed. The land slides have blocked this road at two places. Entire area has been plunged into darkness since last evening due to power failure, SDM Basantgarh Kewal Krishan told the Excelsior. He said Ramnagar-Ghordi road has also been closed due to land slides.
The power supply in entire Mendhar, Balakote and Mankote areas has also been snapped due to breaking of poles and cables since last night. The power could not be restored even by this evening. Several link roads in Poonch and Rajouri including Budhal, Mandi- Loran, Saujian, Surankote -Bafliaz- Thannamandi were closed. The power supply in Bani-Loang, Machhedi, Lohair- Malhar area of Kathua was also snapped due to damage caused to power infrastructure in view of rain and snowfall.
The higher reaches on Rajouri, Poonch, Bhaderwah, Ramban, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Doda have experienced fresh snowfall while road at Jawahar Tunnel has turned slippery. The machines were engaged to clear the highway between Nowgam and Lower Munda on the National Highway.
Due to heavy rain in Jammu, water logging took place at many places of the city while flooded water entered in many colonies of Jammu’s south localities. The flooded nallah water also entered many houses but no heavy loss has been reported, especially in Nanak Nagar, Gangyal and Preetnagar areas.
A MeT spokesman said that Jammu witnessed the day temperature of 15.7 degree Celsius today which is about 6 degree lower than yesterday’s temperature. The minimum temperature in Jammu remained 12.3 degree C. Holy town of Katra recorded a maximum temperature of 11.3 degree C and minimum 10.3 degree C; Bhaderwah town maximum 7.1 degree C and minimum 5.1 degree C while Batote maximum 6.8 degree C and minimum 6.0 degree C temperature.
The spokesman has forecasted light to moderate rain and snowfall at most of the places across the region in next 24 hours. The weather will improve from tomorrow onwards, he added.
Meanwhile, Gulmarg in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district received one feet of fresh snowfall. Kupwara received 4 inches of snowfall while Srinagar received 5 inches of snow.
Snowfall and rains caused water logging in low lying areas of Srinagar, resulting in massive inconvenience to pedestrians and also resulted in traffic jams. City’s low lying areas and residential colonies including Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, HMT, Bemina, Padshahi Bagh, Magarmal Bagh, Exhibition Crossing and Residency Road got waterlogged today.
The locals said that the SMC pumps were visible nowhere and they faced immense problems while moving from one place to another. Reports of water logging were also received from north Kashmir districts which also witnessed overnight snow and rains. Scenes of traffic jams were witnessed at Rambagh, Jawahar Nagar and Natipora as one Chinar tree got uprooted due to snowfall.
Two families were rescued overnight from drowning as their houseboats collapsed due to heavy snowfall in Srinagar. Five members of family were rescued from Choant Kul, a Jhelum river tributary flowing in interiors of city here, after their houseboat started to collapse. Another four members of a family were rescued from collapsing houseboat in Jhelum River at Lambert Lane here in Lal Chowk.
All the rescued persons were shifted to safer places by locals. The affected families have sought immediate relief and rehabilitation from Government as they are without any shelter.
Due to overnight snowfall and rains, major parts of Srinagar and North Kashmir reeled darkness in absence of power supply. In several areas of the city’s Civil Line here, the electricity was snapped soon after heavy snow and rains started last evening and until late afternoon today it was not restored. The electricity in Lal Chowk – the commercial hub in central city – was also snapped in the aftermath of snowfall. The residents of downtown complained that the PDD resorted to unscheduled power cuts after snowfall.
A senior official said that keeping in view the prediction of wet spell, commuters are requested/advised that no vehicles are parked between Jawahar Tunnel South portal to Nowgam village and between Jawahar Tunnel North portal to Lower Munda under any circumstances. These areas being dangerous and avalanche zones should be kept free from any kind of traffic.