NH closed, heli service to Vaishnodevi suspended amid snowfall

Heavy snow accumulated on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Qazigund in Kashmir on Sunday morning. -Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Heavy snow accumulated on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Qazigund in Kashmir on Sunday morning. -Excelsior/Sajad Dar

Many link roads blocked, power supply snapped

Gopal Sharma/
Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Jan 23: The traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was suspended last night following landslides triggered by heavy rains and snowfall while J&K received fresh heavy snowfall since last night.
Over 200 trucks were stranded between Chanderkote and Ramsu and efforts by the road clearance agencies were on to make the road trafficable. Batote-Doda-Kishtwar and Bhaderwah roads were also cleared during the day today.
Officials sources said that Helicopter service to Mata Vaishnodevi shrine in the Trikuta hills in Katra area of Reasi district also remained suspended due to inclement weather but the yatra continued despite a landslide on the new track and fresh snowfall at the Bhawan overnight.

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Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Shabir Ahmad Malik said the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed after overnight rains triggered landslides and shooting of stones from the hillocks at various places including Cafeteria Morh, Duggi Pulli (Chanderkote), Mehar, Digdole and Panthyal in Ramban district.
No fresh traffic, which was scheduled to ply from Jammu towards Srinagar, was allowed this morning, he said.
Malik said Banihal sector also received heavy snowfall, rendering the arterial road slippery. The movement of traffic was later restricted there.
Official said a landslide occurred on the new track leading to the Mata Vaishnodevi shrine around 5 am on Sunday.
The landslide was cleared and the route is now open for the pilgrims, the officials said, adding the helicopter service, however, remained suspended for the second day due to inclement weather.
Vaishno Devi shrine experienced over six to eight inches of snow, while the depth of snow in its peripheral areas including Bhairon Ghati was over one feet, the officials said.
The MeT office has predicted significant improvement in weather from January 24.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine, recorded the highest 50.6 mm of rainfall during the past 24 hours till 8.30 am today, while Jammu city recorded 13.7 mm of rainfall during the same period.
Banihal town in Ramban district was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius followed by Bhaderwah (0.6 deg C), a spokesperson from MeT office said.
He said Katra recorded near normal minimum temperature of 6.2 degrees Celsius, while Jammu city recorded 8.7 degrees Celsius, 1.7 notches above normal during this part of the season.
Due to heavy snowfall in Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch and parts of Udhampur, Kathua and Reasi many link roads have been closed. The power supply to many of these snowbound areas has been snapped. The restoration work has been launched by the PDD authorities on war-footing.
The rain in many parts of the region has paralysed normal life but there was a little improvement in the weather in Jammu during evening. The water logging at many city areas affected smooth movement of traffic.
Meanwhile, Kashmir received fresh snowfall and rains today leading to the closure of National Highway-44 with Weatherman forecasting improvement in weather from tomorrow.
South Kashmir and hills of entire Kashmir received fresh snowfall today while plains of Central and North Kashmir were lashed by rains.
It was raining in Central and North Kashmir intermittently during the day while snowing in South Kashmir and the hills of entire Kashmir.
An official said that 8 inches of snowfall was recorded in Aharbal in Kulgam, 7 inches in Kokernag, 7 inches in Qazigund, 3 inches in Gulmarg, 4 inches in Pahalgam and one feet in Jawahar Tunnel area and 2 inches each in Anantnag, Shopian, Bijbehara, Tral and Pulwama towns.
The Weatherman has forecast improvement in the weather from January 24 till January 29.
“Currently, weather is overcast at most places of J&K with report of widespread light to moderate rain/snow in both Jammu and Kashmir regions,” an official said, adding, “intermittent, light to moderate rain/snow is likely to continue till this evening.”
He said gradual decrease in precipitation was expected from this evening and overall improvement from January 24 onwards till 29 th of this month. “However, fog may develop in plains of Jammu from 26 to 28,” he said, adding, “There’s no forecast of any major precipitation till ending January.”
“Tomorrow on January 24, subject to fair weather and better road conditions LMVs (passenger)/ private cars (only stranded) shall be allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar (strictly one way) on Jammu- Srinagar highway,” a Traffic department official said.
He said the cut off timing for LMVs/private cars from Nagrota (Jammu) shall be at 0900 hours to 1200 hours, and from Jakheni (Udhampur) at 1000 hours to 1300 hours
“Regarding HMVs/Load Carriers, he said, subject to fair weather and better road conditions, they shall be allowed from Jakheni (Udhampur) towards Srinagar after assessing the traffic situation on highway”, he added.
“Security forces are advised not to ply against advisory/traffic plan in view of traffic congestion on Jammu-Srinagar highway. They may ply from Jammu towards Srinagar after confirming the status of highway.”
Meanwhile, Srinagar-Sonamarg-Gumri-Kargil road remained shut for vehicular movement in view of snow accumulation on Zojila axis and has been closed till further orders. Kishtwar-Sinthan road also remained closed in view of snow accumulation.
Due to fresh snowfall, many link roads not only in Kashmir division but in Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and Poonch have also been blocked since yesterday. The power supply to many hilly and snowbound areas has been badly hit.
The MeT official said that Srinagar recorded a low of 0.4 degree Celsius against last night’s 2.3 degree Celsius.
Qazigund recorded a low of 0.0 degree Celsius against 0.2 degree Celsius the previous night.
Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.7 degree Celsius against minus 1.9 degree Celsius the previous night.
Pahalgam recorded a low of minus 1.2 degree Celsius against minus 2.4 degree Celsius the last night.
Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 6.0 degree Celsius against minus 6.5 degree Celsius the previous night. The temperature was 2.2 degree Celsius above normal for this time of the year at the ski resort. Kupwara recorded a low of 1.2 degree Celsius against 1.4 degree Celsius the previous night.
Leh recorded a low of minus 9.0 degree Celsius against last night’s minus 11.4 degree Celsius while mercury at Kargil settled at minus 8.2 degree Celsius. Drass recorded a low of minus 10.8 degree Celsius against last night’s minus 11.9 degree Celsius.