Nov 3-4 snowfall declared natural calamity

Fuel tank of missing truck in landslides traced in Ramban on Friday. —Excelsior/Parvez
Fuel tank of missing truck in landslides traced in Ramban on Friday. —Excelsior/Parvez

Missing truck’s parts recovered, driver among 3 still untraced
Traffic restored on Sgr-Leh NH, Mughal Road

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Nov 9: While the Government declared snowfall of November 3-4 as special natural calamity and enhanced the relief amount to double the SDRF norms, the traffic on Srinagar-Leh Highway and Mughal Road was restored today.
Some parts of a truck loaded with fruits which went missing at Battery Chashma landslide in Ramban area on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway during early morning on November 5, were recovered by the Police and SDRF men during joint operation today. A tyre and fuel tank of the missing truck were discovered by the team. But the driver, cleaner and driver’s minor son were still missing.
Official sources said that the State Executive Committee of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) headed by Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam today took stock of the damages/losses caused due to untimely and unexpected heavy snowfall on November 3 and 4 in the Kashmir division.
Given the extent of damage to the agriculture and horticulture produce and farm infrastructure due to snowfall of November 3-4, the SEC approved notifying the snowfall as a State Specific Special Natural Calamity for the purpose of providing additional relief/assistance to the affected farmers from SDRF.
It was observed that the early snowfall has not only affected the returns this year but is also likely to affect the returns from the horticulture crops for the next 2-3 years. The existing scale of relief for damaged orchards being quite inadequate, it was considered essential to enhance the scale of relief given as per the extant SDRF norms for the perennial crops.
The SEC accordingly decided to categorize apple as a perennial crop given the fact that it takes many years for fruition. In parallel, SEC approved enhancement of the quantum of relief from Rs 18000/Ha to Rs 36000/Ha for damage to perennial crops like apple. The payment of compensation at enhanced rates will not exceed Rs 4000/affected farmer(s) having land less than one hectare and shall cover sown/planted areas only.
Chief Secretary also directed that Rs 10 crore should be kept at the disposal of Deputy Commissioners as an immediate measure for disbursement of cash relief among the bonafide affectees as per SDRF norms.
For strengthening the district administrations response mechanism to winter vagaries including snowfall and inclement weather, the SEC approved allocation of Rs 28 crore for procurement of various machines by the PW(R&B) department. These include Rs 16.50 crore for procurement of three sophisticated snow cutter machines @ Rs 5.50 crore each, Rs 6 crore for procurement of 15 snow plough machines @ Rs 40 lakh each for distribution to various snowfall prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, Doda/Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban/Banihal and Leh and Kargil and Rs 5.50 crore for procurement of 22 bulldozers @ Rs 25 lakh each for all districts of the State.
Principal Secretary, Home, RK Goyal, Principal Secretary, Finance, Navin Choudhary, Commissioner Secretary, Revenue, Shahid Anayatullah, Commissioner Secretary, PWD (R&B), Khurshid Ahmad Shah and other senior officers were present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Srinagar -Leh National highway were today re-opened for one-way traffic afer a gap of eight days. The highway was closed last week due to heavy snowfall following which hundreds of passenger vehicles and trucks were stranded on either side of Zojila.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic Rural, (Sgr) Muzafar Ahmed Shah, said that after the snow clearance work was completed, the stranded vehicles from Kargil side were allowed to move towards Srinagar and this was followed by an Army convoy and light mortar vehicles.
He said traffic will be allowed from Sonamarg side tomorrow. “Subject to good weather and road conditions stranded vehicles will be allowed to move from Kargil towards Sonamarg on Friday,” IGP Traffic Basant Rath said on Twitter.
SSP Poonch Rajiv Pandey said that traffic on Mughal Road was restored after one week today. He said the snow clearance work was completed last evening and snow cutters/ machines have been deployed at the vulnerable areas on this road to meet any challenge. He said today the light and medium vehicles were allowed to move towards Shopian from Bafliaz in Poonch. The traffic restrictions and one way traffic will be allowed for some days.
Meanwhile, the Ramban Police and SDRF joint team with the help of some local youth today managed to trace a tyre, damaged fuel tank and a chain of the truck which went missing during massive land slides at Battery Chashma area of Ramban on Nov 5. This truck was on way to Gurdaspaur in Punjab and was loaded with apples.
SSP Ramban, Anita Sharma said that at 5.50 am on November 5, the location of the truck through mobile phone of driver was established around Ramsoo. Thereafter, the link was cut off. This truck has not crossed Nashri as per the record with the security agencies at Tunnel. She said owner of the truck reported the matter on November 7.
The SSP said as per owner, his driver had talked to him during early morning on the same fateful day and had also revealed that he will reach Gurdaspur by evening. As per the owner of the truck, his driver, his 19 year old son and cleaner were on board the vehicle. She said that till today, they are missing and the teams are on the job.
Replying to a question, the SSP said that the area is inaccessible and due to shooting stones it is very dangerous to carry out search operation there. She said tomorrow, they have planned to take a JCB from Digdole side and reach at the bank of the nallah and start excavation work. Hundreds of tons of material was lying there and the task was very very difficult. She said the truck owner has identified fuel tanki and chain of his vehicle.
Meanwhile, body of one person who had gone missing last week after heavy snowfall has been found in Bandipora forests today. Another one is still missing. Body of Ghulam Qadir, resident of Wuhan Athwatoo, was recovered today. The horses of Ghulam Qadir and Abdul Ajar Sheikh were found alive in the forests. Seven persons had gone missing in the forests and five persons returned home safely while two lost their way due to snowfall and misty conditions.
With improvement in weather condition, the minimum temperature across Kashmir has also improved today. Srinagar recorded 1.0 degrees Celsius as the night’s lowest temperature, improving from Thursday’s minus 0.4 degrees Celsius. A MeT official said the lowest temperature was recorded in Kargil on Friday at minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, followed by Leh at minus 5.1 degrees Celsius which was better than Thursday’s minus 8.6 degrees Celsius and minus degrees Celsius 6.5.
Pahalgam and Gulmarg in the Valley recorded minus 1.0 degrees Celsius and minus 3.5 degrees Celsius, respectively.
The MeT has forecast wet weather from November 12 to November 14 with maximum activity on Tuesday.


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