Flight operations at Srinagar, Vaishnodevi yatra resume; stranded vehicles allowed on NH

Stranded vehicles moving towards Jammu on the National Highway on Thursday. -Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir
Stranded vehicles moving towards Jammu on the National Highway on Thursday. -Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir

Unabated cold wave continues across J&K

Fayaz Bukhari/
Gopal Sharma
SRINAGAR/ JAMMU, Jan 6: While unabated cold conditions continued across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the one way traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was resumed this afternoon, whereas most of the flights at Srinagar and Jammu airports operated normally with the improvement in weather today.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) cleared all the landslides and boulders in Ramban sector during the day today and allowed the movement of stranded Light Motor Vehicles from Banihal and Qazigund side towards Jammu at around 2 pm, followed by movement of heavy vehicles after 6 pm. No fresh movement of vehicles either from Jammu or Srinagar side has been allowed.

Click here to watch video

SSP National Highway, Shabir Ahmed Malik disclosed that after road clearance work in Ramban sector, the movement of stranded Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) was allowed from Banihal side to Udhampur and Jammu after 2 pm. About 100 trucks which were stranded in Banihal sector on south of the new tunnel were also allowed as only one way road could be cleared for movement of vehicles, he said.
“No movement of passenger vehicles will be allowed in Ramban sector during night while loaded / unloaded HMVs will be allowed to move towards Jammu side. If weather further improved, the movement of vehicles from both sides will be allowed from tomorrow morning. There was no problem on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road and it was clear,” Malik added.
Authorities closed Srinagar-Leh highway passing through Zojila, for vehicular movement till further orders. The highway has been closed due to continuous spell of snowfall and extreme weather conditions.
The general public and tourists have been advised to suspend any travel on Srinagar-Leh highway with immediate effect.
The flight operations at Srinagar airport resumed today after remaining disrupted for two days. The poor visibility at the airport led to delay in the morning flights but later the flight operation resumed.
Director Srinagar Airport, Kuldeep Singh told Excelsior that 39 flights operated today while six were cancelled. He said that 6687 passengers departed from Srinagar airport while 5861 arrived today.
Director, Airport Authority Jammu, S K Garg said that with the improvement in weather conditions, all the flights, except one, operated normally from Jammu airport today. He said almost all the Kashmir and Leh bound flights operated today while one flight from Gwalior could not operate due to bad weather there.
Meanwhile, the minimum temperature in most places of Kashmir stayed close to the freezing point as the residents continue to experience warmer than expected nights, officials said today.
Srinagar recorded the minimum temperature of 0.3 degree Celsius, marginally down from the previous night’s 0.8 degrees Celsius, Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 3.5 degrees Celsius — up from previous night’s 4.0 degrees Celsius while Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius – slightly down from minus 0.4 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said.
Qazigund, the gateway town to the Valley, recorded the minimum of 0.4 degrees Celsius, while the nearby South Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius. The mercury in Kupwara in North Kashmir settled at a low of 0.0 degrees Celsius, same as previous night.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread snow/rain spell of moderate to heavy intensity till January 8 in the region. Heavy snow is expected at some places during the period as well, it said.
“Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ which began on December 21. ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ is a period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the Valley. The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall. The ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ will end on January 31,” he added.
Meanwhile, the pilgrimage to Shri Mata Vaishnodevi shrine which was suspended on Wednesday evening, was resumed today morning from the Katra base camp. The helicopter service which remained non-operational for the last two days, was also resumed during the day today with some improvement in weather.
A spokesman of the SMVD Shrine Board said that after rain and landslides enroute Bhawan, besides presence of over 18,000 pilgrims at the cave shrine, the Board suspended Yatra last evening from base camp Katra. It was in fact done, for the safety of the pilgrims. He said the Yatra on new track was still suspended after landslides yesterday and has been allowed through old track only.
Jammu recorded a minimum temperature of 10.3 deg C, about 3 degree below normal today; holy township of Katra 7.6 degree Celsius, Bhaderwah town 1.1 deg C while Batote had -1.1 degree Celsius temperature today. Leh and Kargil towns today recorded a minimum temperature of -5.0 and -7.6 degree C.
Due to continuous rain and snowfall the power supply to many areas has been disrupted while the PDD staff was deployed to restore supplies to the effected areas. There are reports of heavy snowfall in higher reaches of Kathua including Sarthal, Loang, Bani and Taggar area besides parts of Mahore, Gool-Gulabgarh, Nathatop, Dudu- Basantgarh, Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar areas. There are reports of partially collapse of about a dozen Kucha houses in Rajouri, Mahore, Poonch, Udhampur and Ramban areas. However, no loss of life has been reported.
Meanwhile, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, today cautioned inhabitants residing in upper reaches across Jammu and Kashmir of possible medium danger avalanches amid prevailing inclement weather conditions.
The medium danger avalanche warning exists for the higher reaches across Jammu and Kashmir for next 24 hours. The areas where the warning has been issued are- Shahbad Bala, Sallar, Pahalgam, Kokernag in Anantnag district, Tulail and Gurez in Bandipora district; Uri, Buniyar, Gulmarg in Baramulla district; Gund, Kangan, Sonamarg in Ganderbal district; Drass in Kargil district, Warwan, Mughal Maidan, Marwah, Drabshalla, Chattroo in Kishtwar district; Bhaderwah in Doda district, Devsar, Damhal Hanji Pora in Kulgam district, Trehgam, Machil, Lalpora, Kralpora, Keran, Karnah in Kupwara district, Surankote in Poonch district Banihal and areas around Jawahar Tunnel in Ramban district, People living in these areas have been cautioned to take all necessary precautions and avoid venturing on the avalanche prone slopes.