* Over 300 passengers accommodated at Ramban, Banihal
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Nov 15: The Jammu -Srinagar National Highway continued to remain closed due to massive land slides at Digdole near Ramsu in Ramban sector on the second consecutive day while about 7000 vehicles including large number of trucks are stranded at various places in Kashmir, Udhampur and Jammu areas.
Official sources told the Excelsior that massive land slides which blocked the highway at Digdol late last evening, could not be cleared even today due to intermittent rain and continuous land slides and shooting stones from the mountain top. The clearance work could not be commenced by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and HCC agency at the site up to 2 pm due to rain. After the weather improved, two machines from both the sides were pressed into service on road clearance task. Even till this evening, hardly 50 percent of the road could be cleared.
About 150 light/medium vehicles said to have been stranded in Ramban, Banihal and Chanderkote area since last evening. The local administration accommodated stranded passengers at different places and also opened Langar at Ramban. Over 300 passengers have been stranded only in Ramban area, a senior police officer said.
IGP Traffic, J&K Alok Kumar told the Excelsior that hardly 45-50 meters of the road could be cleared today at Digdole as the work could be started there at around 2 pm. Since morning there was rain in the area and moreover, shooting stones and frequent land- slides at the same site disrupted the restoration work.
Kumar said the work will be resumed tomorrow morning again. He said during night hours it is very dangerous and risky to carry out work because shooting stones may struck any time. If the weather remains clear, the road is likely to be cleared by tomorrow.
The IG claimed that over 4500 trucks have been stranded on North side of the Jawahar Tunnel and parts of Banihal while about 2000 vehicles in Ramban-Chanderkote, Udhampur, Dhar Road and Jammu area. No vehicle from Nagrota and Udhampur side to Kashmir and also from Khannabal and Qazigund side to Jammu side was allowed to move today. He said immediately after the road clearance, passenger vehicles stranded in Ramban-Chanderkote and Ramsu-Banohal area will be cleared, followed by loaded trucks to Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley was lashed by rain while there was snowfall in Zojila and Pir Ki Gali area of Shopian today.
The rainfall further led to drop in temperature across the region. Gutsy winds were blowing across Kashmir today making people to shiver.
Around six inches snowfall was recorded in Zojila area and over one ft snowfall was recorded at Meenimarg, leading to continuous closure of Srinagar-Leh highway.
The roads leading to Tangdhar, Keran, Machhil and Gurez continued tobe closed for the last one week after snowfall. The Mughal Road is also blocked due to heavy snowfall at Pir Ki Gali.
The Metrological department forecast heavy snowfall in the hills of Kashmir and light snowfall in Valley. It said the main activity of the weather will be on Friday and from Saturday evening the weather may improve. The Met has predicted further drop in temperature in Kashmir by 5-6 notches.