Commuters remain stranded for 2nd day

Debris lying at the site of landslide near Digdol which kept the highway closed since Sunday noon. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir
Debris lying at the site of landslide near Digdol which kept the highway closed since Sunday noon. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir

NH still blocked due to debris

Nishikant Khajuria

JAMMU, Nov 11: Thousands of commuters remained stranded for the second consecutive day as the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway could not be re-opened for traffic since massive landslide near Ramban on Sunday afternoon even as hectic efforts were still going on to clear the debris that has blocked the strategic NH-44.
Around 250 Light Motor Vehicles and 500 heavy vehicles are stranded between Ramban and Digdol, where a massive landslide took place yesterday around 1 pm burying a large stretch of the road and leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

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” All efforts are being made to clear the debris and we are hopeful to re-open the highway by late this night as the agencies clearing the road are claimed to have finished almost 80 percent work,” said IGP Alok Kumar .
Reports said that five machines have been pressed into service since yesterday for clearing the debris on both ends while two more machines were requisitioned today as efforts were going on to restore the highway as early as possible.
Besides the landslide being massive, the major hurdle in clearing the debris was fresh erosion of soil , which was taking place during the debris clearing work thus creating hurdles in re-opening the road for traffic.
“Once the clearance operation gets completed and condition of the retaining wall is reviewed, the stranded passenger vehicles will be allowed to move on priority ,” the IGP Traffic said adding that around 8000 trucks loaded with essential items for Valley, are stranded on the Highway between Jammu and Ramban for the last five days.
According to the some eyewitnesses, a few stranded passengers were today seen trying to cross the blocked stretch on foot for reaching their destination while majority of them preferred to wait till clearance of the road.
SSP Traffic National Highway Jatinder Singh Johal was monitoring the restoration operations on the highway.
The 270-km long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Thursday after most parts of Kashmir and high altitude areas of the Jammu region, including the Jawahar Tunnel – experienced the first major snowfall of the season.
Even as the highway was opened for traffic on Saturday, multiple landslides triggered by heavy rains in Ramban sector disrupted the movement of vehicles.
The Mughal Road, which connects the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, is also lying closed for the six days following heavy snowfall in Pir Ki Gali area on last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the weather office has predicted another spell of light to moderate snowfall at most places in Kashmir and upper reaches in Jammu besides Kargil between November 14 and 16.