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* One way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar today
Gopal Sharma/ Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Jan 8: While the Traffic Police authorities cleared about 1500 stranded vehicles in Banihal, Ramban and Chanderkote areas and some at Lower Munda and Qazigund belt after the Jammu -Srinagar National Highway was restored for one way traffic after blockade of two days, the air-traffic to Srinagar was resumed today after the snow was removed from the airport after two days.
Chenab region including Doda, Bhaderwah and Kishtwar remained cut off on the third consecutive day while several link roads in Poonch and Rajouri including Mandi Loran, Mandi- Saujian, Thannamandi-Dera Gali- Bafliaz, Kotranka- Budhal and Mahore-Gool remained closed due to heavy snowfall at passes.
An official at Srinagar airport said that all flights operated from the Srinagar airport today after improvement in weather. No flight took off or landed at Srinagar airport on Friday and Saturday due to heavy snowfall in Kashmir.
With the improvement in weather condition today, the authorities pressed machines for clearance of highway from Nowgam (Banihal) to Jawahar Tunnel and also from Lower Munda to Tunnel and cleared the one highway for the one way traffic this afternoon. The snow clad Patnitop area was also cleared but due to heavy rush of tourist vehicles massive traffic jam was created there. It took hours to the Traffic Police and local police to clear the road between Patnitop and Kud.
IG Traffic, S A Watali told the Excelsior that after tough efforts in Jawahar Tunnel areas and taking all precautions against avalanche, the heavy snow was cleared from Nowgam to Lower Munda and ahead and National Highway was restored this afternoon.
He said earlier, Kashmir bound stranded vehicles between Chanderkote, Ramban and Banihal were cleared. Thereafter, the down convoy, mostly stranded vehicles between Lower Munda and Qazigund for Jammu, were also cleared. He claimed that by this evening, about 1500 vehicles were cleared and thereafter the movement of vehicles in Jawahar Tunnel area was stopped in view of avalanche threat and massive slippery conditions.
The IG further disclosed that tomorrow all type of vehicles from Jammu to Srinagar will be allowed while from Srinagar to Jammu only light motor passenger vehicles will be allowed to operate. The traffic restrictions will be at Nagrota Bye Pass and Udhampur Traffic Check Posts besides Lower Munda. The vehicles will leave Jammu at 5.30 am onwards and they will have to cross Nagrota Check Post by 11 am. The vehicles beyond 12.30 pm will not be allowed at Udhampur TCP for Kashmir. The traffic restrictions will also be for the Military and the Para-Military force vehicles, he maintained.
SSP Traffic, Fayaz Ahmad Lone, said that with the clearance of National Highway 1082 Kashmir bound vehicles that were stranded between Ramban and Banihal sector crossed Jawahar Tunnel till 6 p.m. “These included 337 Light Mortar Vehicles, 684 Trucks, 56 Oil and Gas tankers and five buses”, he added. The highway has been thrown open one-way traffic for HMVS and two-way traffic for LMVs due to continuous snowfall at Patnitop and Jawahar Tunnel. Due to snowfall road width between Batote- Patnitop and Nowgam upto Zig has squeezed as a result of which only one way movement of traffic is possible the highway.
Meanwhile, slippery road conditions and spells of snowfall at Patnitop on Jammu – Srinagar National Highway forced authorities in Doda region not to allow traffic for third consecutive day on Sunday. All the districts of Chenab valley remained cut off from rest of the country as vehicular movement was not allowed beyond Batote towards Jammu forcing commuters to remain stranded at Bhaderwah, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban. However, all the major link roads within district Doda and Kishtwar were made operational for traffic today.
DySP Traffic, NH1B, Aftab Ahmed said, “Due to slippery road conditions and massive traffic jam at Patnitop on Sunday, we did not allow any vehicle from district Doda and Kishtwar to move towards Jammu beyond Batote, considering the safety of passengers. As soon the jam is cleared at Patnitop, we will allow the traffic movement of passenger vehicles towards Jammu,” he added.
“ However all the major link roads including Doda – Bhaderwah, Thathri – Gandoh, Chatroo – Kishtwar, Padder-Kishtwar, Chinta-Bhaderwah, Bhala – Nalthi and Doda – Gath have been opened for all kinds of traffic and vehicles are plying on these roads normally, “ Aftab added saying that people should undertake journey only after contacting our control rooms to know the status of the highway.
Meanwhile, power supply was restored in Bhaderwah and Doda towns completely this afternoon.
However, entire Gandoh Sub Division, peripherals and rural areas including Desa, Siraz, Thana, Kashtigarh, Bharat, Gundana in Doda and Thanhala, Sherakhi, Bumlakhi, Kansar, Manthala, Malani, Chinchora, Bheja, Mathola, Shankhoja and Lagsaroo villages of Bhadarwah remained without electricity for third consecutive day.
When contacted SDM Gandoh, Dalmir Choudhary said, “ The power supply has been restored at Gandoh Grid Station and we are hopeful that by late evening, we will be able to restore electricity at Gandoh headquarters, Gawari, Kahara and Kilhotran.”
Reports from Mahore said that due to heavy rain a portion of the house of one Nazim Din at Lower Seela near Chhajru (Mahore) was hit by a boulder in which his 60 sheep and goats were killed. The villagers and police reached there and they managed to remove 36 dead sheep from the debris till this evening. Nizadin and his family had miraculous escape in the mishap.
Another report from Rattian village in RS Pura said that four members of a family were injured as their kutcha house collapsed during rain last night. The injured are identified as Chanchla Devi (45), wife of Sansari Lal and their three sons- Sunny-18, minor Sohan alias Sonu and Aman Kumar. They have been admitted to GMC Hospital, Jammu.
Reports from Rajouri and Poonch said that Jammu-Poonch highway has been restored after clearance of snow at Bhimber Gali while other road between Rajouri-Thannamandi, Bafliaz and Surankote was still blocked due to heavy snowfall at Dera Gali. Mandi-Loran and Mandi Saujian roads were also still blocked while snowfall occurred at Thannamandi and Budhal towns during early hours today. Kotranka and Budhal-Mahore and Mahore-Gool- Ramban road was also closed. The power supply to many villages of Balakote, Chatral, Kalaban, Harni, Loran and parts of Surankote in Poonch has been snapped due to snowfall.
Due to heavy snow fall at Patnitop and Kud since last evening, massive rush of tourists has been reported. Most of the hostels and JKTDC accommodations were full there.
Lati, Dudu and Basantgarh towns of district Udhampur also experienced first snowfall of the season last evening while road between Lati–Dudu and Basantgarh-Majori was closed due to snow fall at Shiv Gali and Ganth Top. Kishtwar-Chhatroo-Sinthon Top-Anantnag road has also been closed.
With improvement in weather in Jammu city and sunny day, there was improvement in day temperature. Jammu recorded maximum 17.2 degree Celsius temperature and minimum 6.6 degree C while in Katra maximum 12.1 degree C and minimum 5.2 degree C temperature was recorded. Bhaderwah town recorded a maximum temperature 5.0 degree C and minimum minus 1.1 degree C. The Met Department has predicted fair weather conditions in the region in next 24 hours. Due to fair weather, chopper service at Mata Vaishnodevi shrine from Katra base camp operated normally.
Meanwhile, a medium danger avalanche warning was issued today for some avalanche-prone districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) issued the warning that would be valid for the next 24 hours starting at 5 pm today.
A SASE advisory said the medium danger warning is in place for avalanche prone areas in Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Doda, Poonch and Riyasi of Jammu and Kashmir. “People are advised not to venture in avalanche prone areas during the warning period,” it said.
Despite snowfall Kashmir is still in the grip of cold wave and temperatures are below normal.
Srinagar city recorded minimum temperature of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius. Qazigind minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam minus 3.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara minus 2.7 degrees Celsius, Kokernag minus 3.7 degrees Celsius and Gulmarg minus 7.6 degrees Celsius.
Leh has been witnessing warmer nights that usual as the minimum temperature settled at minus 8 degrees Celsius and Kargil minus 11.2 degrees Celsius.
Srinagar recorded a maximum of 3 degree Celsius which is five notches below normal. Qazigund recorded 6.1 degree Celsius, Pahalgam recorded 1.8 degree Celsius, Kokernag recorded 5.8 degree Celsius, Kupwara 3.5 degree Celsius, Gulmarg minus 2.8 degree Celsius and Leh 0.4 degree Celsius.