Fresh snow, rains in Valley; crops damaged in Jammu

Gopal Sharma/Fayaz Bukhari

Vehicles move through water-logged road in Srinagar city during rains on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Amin War

JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Feb 27: Massive rain and hail-storm lashed Jammu, Akhnoor and R S Pura areas this evening, causing extensive damage to the Rabi crop and vegetables while entire Kashmir and hilly areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Rajouri and Poonch experienced fresh snowfall whereas, Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed after landslides and shooting stones in Ramban area this evening.
Keeping in view freak weather and fresh snowfall, the State Government today extended winter vacations in Kashmir and other winter zone areas of Jammu region up to March 10. Commissioner /Secretary Education Farooq Ahmed Faktoo said winter vacations have been extended up to March 10 due to bad weather and fresh snowfall. The schools in Kashmir were scheduled to re-open on March 1.
The traffic on Jammu- Srinagar National Highway came to halt at around 7 pm today after fresh land- slides near Seri and shooting stones and boulders at Panthal near Ramban. The Traffic Police authorities allowed one way convoy from Srinagar to Jammu today. Majority of the vehicles had crossed the trouble- prone area by evening when the authorities again announced closure of the highway.
IGP Traffic Munir Khan said the National Highway was closed due to heavy snowfall near Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop areas and land slides after rain in some areas of Ramban. He disclosed that nearly one foot snow accumulated near Tunnel. He said during the day nearly 1800 vehicles were allowed to move towards Jammu after blockades were cleared near Panthal, Seri and few other areas.
DIG Traffic, Shakeel Beig said that in the morning around 9 am, the Jammu-Srinagar Highway remained closed for about two hours due to land slides in Seri and Panthal area. It took about two hours to the BRO men to clear the highway. Thereafter, one way traffic was restored on the highway. The DIG said the vehicles’ movement from Srinagar to Jammu remained suspended in Banihal and Ramban areas. He said by 5 pm most of the vehicles were cleared for Jammu.
He said due to rain and fresh snow fall the same problem struck again and the highway was closed to traffic this evening. There was fresh snowfall in Jawahar tunnel and Patnitop area and if the rain continued, then there are bleak chances of opening of road tomorrow morning. Shooting stones at Panthal and land slides have blocked the highway again in the same belt of Ramban, the DIG maintained.
Reports from Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch revealed that fresh snowfall has been reported from the hilly areas of Bhaderwah, Bhalessa, Patnitop, Banihal and Gool-Mahore besides Mandi- Loran, Bufliaz and Budhal area. Thanna Mandi-Dera ki-Gali and Bufliaz road has also been closed while power supply to many areas has been affected. Bhaderwah town experienced about 7-8 inch to one foot snow today and the power supply was also disrupted there since morning.
Heavy rain and hailstorm in many parts of Jammu this evening affected the normal life and also caused extensive damage to Rabi crop. Reports said that farmers’ standing crop especially vegetables have suffered massive damage. The areas where loss was reported much, included Phallain-Mandal, Gajansoo- Marh, Miran Sahib, Sangrampur, Jhiri and Pargwal in Akhnoor. The crop has also been affected in R S Pura and parts of Bishnah due to fresh hail-storm.
Meanwhile, people in Valley woke up to a blanket of snow. Heavy rain during the night in plains of Kashmir valley was followed by snow in the morning. Hilly areas experienced heavy snowfall. Around 2 inch snow accumulated in Srinagar city and its adjoining areas. Due to heavy rain and choking of drains, half of the city was water-logged in the morning. Lal Chowk, Regal Chowk, Residency Road, Hari Singh High Street, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Chhanpora, Bemina areas were the worst- hit.
While Gulmarg experienced nearly one foot snow, other areas like Sadnatop and Zed Gali in Kupwara witnessed 2-3 feet snow. In South Kashmir of Shopian district one foot snow was recorded while Heerpora and Pir Ki Gali experienced 1.5 to 2 ft of snowfall.
Following heavy snow fall in the hills, the Divisional Administration Kashmir issued avalanche warning. The people residing in the avalanche prone areas have been advised not to venture into the danger zones in next 24-hours.

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