Rain, heavy snowfall lash J&K; NH partially restored

Trucks stranded in Qazigund area after closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Sajjad Dar
Trucks stranded in Qazigund area after closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Sajjad Dar

6 go missing in Kishtwar, 41 flights cancelled at Sgr

Power infra badly damaged, many areas hit

Fayaz Bukhari/Gopal Sharma
SRINAGAR/ Jammu, Feb 23: While heavy rain and snowfall paralysed normal life across J&K affecting air and vehicular traffic during last 24 hours, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was partially restored tonight after remaining closed for 15 hours in Ramban and Banihal sectors, whereas, six persons went missing from snowbound Morgan Top in Marwan area of Kishtwar district last night.
At Srinagar Airport, all the 41 flights were cancelled due to fresh snowfall at the airfield overnight while Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed after landslides at Panthyal, Marog, Mehar and Cafeteria Morh and snowfall in Banihal and Qazigund areas.
The hill resort of Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam experienced heavy snowfall since last night while many roads were closed due to continuous rain, landslides and fresh snowfall.
Reports from Kishtwar said that six persons hailing from remote Warwan area of district Kishtwar went missing when they were going to their homes from Anantnag side on foot. Their families received last call at around 9 pm on Tuesday when they were crossing Margan Top. Thereafter, no contact could be established with them and the families approached District Administration Kishtwar for help. They were said to be working as labourers in Himachal Pardesh and returning their homes via Anantnag, the reports added.
Deputy Commissioner, Kishtwar, Ashok Sharma said that Administration received information today about the missing of six persons hailing from remote snowbound Warwan area. One of the family members, told that he received last call of his father at around 9 pm on Tuesday when he was at Morgan Top. There was heavy snowfall in the area during last night. They could not reach home even today and since last night no contact could be established.
The DC said they were moving towards their homes from Anantnag side. There is heavy snowfall on Kishtwar side and it is not possible to reach up to there by police due to heavy snowfall overnight and bad weather. He said they have requested district administration, Anantnag for help. An Army column from that side has launched search operation but till late this evening, their locations could not be established.
Kashmir valley received moderate to heavy overnight snowfall plunging entire Valley into darkness with majority roads including vital ones remained blocked as the response of the Administration was sluggish.
The Valley remained cut off from rest of the country as all flights were cancelled and Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed due to snowfall during the day.
However, a Meteorological Department official said that weather will improve tomorrow. “We expect gradual decrease in rain/snow from today afternoon and significant improvement from evening,” the MeT official said, adding, “Overall improvement is most likely from February 24 onwards”. After this spell, the official said, “there’s no forecast of any major rain/snow till ending February.”
The higher reaches of Kashmir had heavy snowfall with Valley receiving moderate snowfall. Gulmarg received 2 feet of fresh snow since last night while Kongdoori had 3 feet of fresh snowfall.
The snow accumulation in Pulwama and Anantnag was mostly around one feet while in Shopian and Kulgam districts it was between 2-3 feet.
Srinagar has 7 inches, Budgam 7 inches, Khan Sahib and Chrar-e-Sharief over one feet, Yousmarg over 2 feet, Baramulla, Handwara and Kupwara 4 inches, Gurez around one feet and Razdan Top over one feet of snow depth.
All the major roads remained closed for the traffic due to fresh snowfall since last evening.
The men and machinery have, however, been pressed to clear the roads, but the operation continued till late hours as the intermittent snowfall continued till later afternoon.
The decision to close the roads for traffic was taken as a precautionary measure due to the slippery conditions triggered by fresh snowfall.
An official said that the vehicular movement on Jammu-Srinagar highway will remain suspended tomorrow due to huge landslide at Cafeteria Morh, continuous shooting stones at many places between Ramban and Banihal and snow accumulation between NAVYUG tunnel and Qazigund.
All the flights scheduled to operate at Srinagar airport were cancelled today due to snowfall.
Director, Airports Authority of India, Srinagar, Kuldeep Singh said that 41 flights were to operate but snowfall forced their cancellation.
As per airlines, the passengers will be adjusted in the forthcoming flights in next available flights.
While weather is set to improve as per the forecast by the local Meteorological Department, the Director AAI expressed hope that all flights will operate tomorrow. He said that snow clearance operation was going on.
The overnight snowfall caught the administration napping as majority of the roads including vital ones were not cleared till noon.
Reports reaching from various parts of Kashmir said that administration’s response to the snow clearance was sluggish and it took several hours to them to start the operations which should have normally been started before the first light.
Even the roads leading to SKIMS hospital in Soura area of Srinagar were not cleared in the morning. “The snow clearance at Alijan Road which leads to SKIMS Soura was started around noon,” said Bashir Ahmad, resident of Eidgah adding “if such a vital road has not been cleared in the morning what would be the fate of the roads in the other areas”.
Bilal Ahmad from Bemina area told Excelsior that administration failed to clear the snow from the roads in the area. “They were napping and preparedness to deal with such a situation was lacking. Last time when it snowed two months back, the response was prompt,” he added.
Similar reports are pouring in from other parts of Kashmir where snow clearance was delayed. In some areas snow clearance was yet to be done in the evening.
The snowfall plunged entire Valley into darkness as power infrastructure suffered almost 70 per cent damage.
Majority of areas across Kashmir remained without electricity till evening due to the damage caused by heavy snowfall, resulting in sufferings to the people.
The power was, however, restored in certain areas by the evening while several areas are sill reeling under darkness. People in Lawaypora area of Srinagar said that power has not been restored to them so far even as Receiving Station is on the Highway. “Whenever there is snowfall, we are worst affected. Even power to remote villages is being restored but in our area it takes days”, said Sajjad Hussain.
Reports reaching from the rural areas said that majority of the areas are still reeling under darkness after overnight snowfall.
Kulgam district is worst hit and officials said that it may take a couple of days to restore power there.
Two towers of 132 KV Mirbazar-Kulgam transmission line feeding Grid Station Kulgam collapsed due to snowfall early today.
“Two towers of 132 KV Mirbazar Kulgam transmission line feeding Grid station Kulgam got collapsed due to heavy snowfall, power supply to entire Kulgam district shall remain effected for few days . Inconvenience regretted,” Kashmir Power DISCOM tweeted.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, PK Pole told reporters here that 20 to 25 percent power lines have been affected due to snowfall. He said the Divisional administration is working to restore electricity to the affected areas by evening.
Managing Director of Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL), Dr. Basharat Qayoom said that the electricity load plummeted this morning after heavy snowfall across the Valley as it caused extensive damage not only to the sub transmission distribution, but the transmission lines as well as the grid stations were also affected.
He said the men and machinery were pressed into the services to ensure early restoration of electricity. He said that they will be trying to complete the restoration process by tomorrow afternoon except Kulgam where there is an issue of transmission towers.
Over 50 tourists were stranded at Sonamarg due to snowfall and were evacuated by Ganderbal Police after they received information about their presence.
Police drove a number of vehicles from Gagangeer to Sonamarg and brought them back to Ganderbal wherefrom they left for Srinagar.
Many tourists had headed to the higher reaches of Sonamarg to enjoy snowfall despite the police advisory.
Due to the accumulation of snow on roads in South Kashmir, several patients were taken to hospital either on shoulders or in earthmovers.
A lady was injured after a shed collapsed due to heavy snowfall in Achan village of Litter Tehsil in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. She was taken to hospital in an earthmover as roads in the area were not cleared of snow.
A pregnant lady was also stuck at her home due to accumulation of snow in Abhama Rajpora area of Pulwama and the family wasn’t able to take the lady to hospital.
They said that family members contacted a concerned police station for help after which a police party headed by SHO Rajpora rushed to the spot along with JCB and ambulance.
The lady was taken to district hospital Pulwama for treatment.
A lady from Lelhara Kakapora in Pulwama district was also rushed to the hospital with the help of earthmover. The lady Jana, wife of Abdul Rehman Dar, resident of Lelhara Kakapora, received injury after shed collapsed in the area. Family was unable to take her to hospital, however, after contacting the concerned police station, a JCB was arranged and helped her to reach the PHC Kakapora.
Several patients were either taken on shoulders or in earthmovers in Shopian and Anantnag districts as well.
A pregnant lady from Batpora Shopian was taken to the district hospital on shoulders due to accumulation of snow on the roads.
Similarly, a patient from Seepan Anantnag was also taken on shoulders for about three kilometres to reach hospital.
Nearly half a dozen residential houses and two sheds were damaged while two ladies also suffered injuries and six house boats sunk due to snowfall.
Several families had a narrow escape today the residential houses collapsed due to snowfall.
Two women from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district identified as Arifa Banoo, 45, wife of Mohammad Shafi Dar of Achan and Jana Begum, wife of Abdul Rehman Dar of Lelhara Pulwama were injured in separate incidents.
The duo was injured after the sheds collapsed, adding that Arifa was cooking in a shed when it collapsed and thus sustained injuries while Jan was also in the shed when it collapsed today.
Nearly half a dozen residential houses-one in Srinagar, others in Southern districts of Kashmir were damaged due to the fresh snowfall.
The houses belong to Manzoor Ahmad Gojri of Chatterhama Hazratbal, Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh in Tral, Gh Mohammad Mir in Kanjilor Shopian, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat in Batapora Ladhoo, Pampore.
A few of the residential houses were also damaged in Keller area of Shopian.
A shed belonging to Showkat Ahmad Dar, son of Ghulam Ahmad Dar of Wandena Malhoura was also damaged after a tree fell on it.
At least six houseboats in Dal lake and one at Chinar Bagh submerged due to snowfall.
The six houseboats that sunk in Dal lake include HB New Simla, HB Honey Moon, HB Bangkok, HB Young Marmandie, HB Holly Wood and HB Kings Throne. A houseboat at Chinar Bagh belonging to Fayaz Ahmad Darma, son of Abdul Aziz Darma of Chinar Bagh was partially submerged.
In the meantime, University of Kashmir postponed all UG/PG/Professional examinations of the University scheduled to be held on February 24 in view of the inclement weather conditions.
Controller of Examinations Dr Majid Zaman in a statement said fresh dates for the postponed papers will be notified separately.
The University has also postponed the Mains Examination for posts of Assistant Registrars which was scheduled to be held on February 24, 2022, the statement further read.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole said here that all the essential services are being restored on a war footing basis for the convenience of the general public.
He said that plain areas of South Kashmir received 2 to 3 feet snow while Central Kashmir received 1 to 1.5 feet snow and North Kashmir 0.5 to 1 feet besides hilly areas received 2 to 4 feet snow which affected normal life and services.
Pole said that the Mechanical Engineering Department completed 70% snow clearance under priority Phase-I while PWD cleared snow from all the roads falling under its jurisdiction.
Besides, Div Com informed that apart from 5 to 6 percent water supply lines which have been affected, all other Water Supply Schemes are functional. He said that the affected WSS will be restored soon for which men and machinery has been put on work.
Div Com further informed that no casualty has been reported till now due to the snow and said that all the hospitals are functional while entire medical and paramedics staff is available in hospitals to render their duties and services.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Mohammad Aijaz Asad toured Dal lake areas here to oversee the damages caused to the houseboats and Shikaras due to overnight snowfall.
Asad, who was accompanied by, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Dr Syed Haneef Balkhi visited Dal lake areas in motor boat to inspect the houseboats and Shikaras, which got sunk due to snowfall during the intervening night of 22nd February.
On the occasion, the DC directed the Revenue officials to assess the damages and furnish the details at an earliest. He assured the affected house-boat owners and Shikara walas that all possible assistance will be extended to them from the Administration/SDRF Team.
Meanwhile, two persons were rescued by Bahu Fort Police in Jammu and SDRF team when they were trapped in flooded river Tawi during morning near Har ki Paudi. The police team led by SHO Arjun Chib along with SDRF men reached the spot after receiving information and rescued the trapped persons. They were
Identified as Nawab Din (65), son of Noor Din and Zulekha Bi, wife of Late Liaqat Ali, residents of Chak Dayal in district Samba. They adopted short route to reach Dwara area near Sidhra but got trapped in flash flood in Tawi.
Meanwhile, the Chopper service to Mata Vaishnodevi from base camp Katra and battery car service from Adhkunwari to Bhawan remained suspended today due to bad weather and rain while Shrine Board authorities closed new track apprehending threat of landslides due to heavy rain. The pilgrimage was allowed through old track. Due to rain and snowfall, Reasi-Mahore, Mahore- Gool and Mahore-Budhal roads were also closed today. However, Reasi-Mahore link was restored in the evening.
A senior Traffic Police official said that Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was blocked due to fresh landslides amidst rain at Mehar and Cafeteria Morh near Ramban besides falling of boulders at Panthyal. Some portion of the under construction tunnel was also damaged. The traffic was suspended during wee hours today after this development.
One way traffic could be restored at around 7.30 pm and some stranded vehicles were cleared. But shooting stones continued to disrupt traffic and the authorities restricted movement of passenger vehicles during night. No fresh traffic has been allowed from Srinagar or Jammu side by the Traffic Police authorities on Thursday,
In Jammu, heavy rain during last night wrecked havoc. The hill stations in the region specially those falling in Poonch, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and Reasi experienced heavy snowfall. Many link roads have been closed and power supply hit in snow bound areas. Udhampur-Pancheri road was closed due to land slides between Kainthgalli and Pancheri.