Rain, snowfall across J&K; NH, other roads closed

Fresh snowfall at Mata Vaishno Devi Ji shrine
Fresh snowfall at Mata Vaishno Devi Ji shrine

200 transformers damaged, power snapped

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Dec 13: Heavy rain and snowfall across J&K have thrown normal life out of gear, forcing closure of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway besides many other roads in Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and parts of Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi and Udhampur.
Due to heavy snowfall at Srinagar airport and bad weather conditions in entire Kashmir, seven flights from Jammu Airport remained suspended. Other flights between Jammu-Delhi and Jammu-Mumbai besides other destinations operated normally. Chopper service to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine from Katra base camp also remained suspened on the second day due to bad weather and heavy snowfall at the shrine. Click here to watch video
With the continuous rain and snowfall for the last two days, over 200 electric tranformers and power lines of the PDD have been damaged in Jammu region, mostly in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban while power supply to many hilly areas has been snapped since last night. There was total power break down in Bhaderwah town and many villages of the sub division since late Thursday evening. Even in Dudu-Basantgarh, Latti, Mahore, Gool, Bani, Loang, Machedi and Lohai- Malhar area, the power supply has been snapped.
Jammu’s day temperature has fallen about 10 degree below normal while entire region came under the grip of severe cold wave, forcing people to stay indoors. The attendance in schools and many Government offices remained thin due to rain and harsh cold. River Tawi, Basantar, Chenab and several other streams witnessed flood during morning hours but later the water level strated receding.
Reports from Ramban said that due to land slides between Ramban and Banihal besides Nashri and heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel, a large number of vehicles have been stranded on the highway. About 150 passenger vehicles, mostly LMVs have been stranded at Shan Palace Ramban and Chanderkote area.
Nearly 80 to 100 vehicles were also stranded in Banihal belt and Chenani area. Due to 1.5 ft to 2 ft snowfall at Batote and 2 to 2.5 ft in Bhaderwah area, and landslides at two places, Batote -Kishtwar road also remained closed. During the day, some portion of road at Batote was cleared but snowfall again started in the afternoon forcing closure of the road.
No movement of vehicles from Nagrota Bypass TCP and Jakheni (Udhampur) TCP was allowed for Kashmir or Doda-Bhaderwah-Kishtwar by the Traffic Police authorities. Over 2500 trucks said to have been stranded in Nagrota-Sidhra Bypass and Udhampur-Dhar Road area. More than 2000 heavy vehicles have been stranded in Qazigund and Khanabal area of Kashmir in highway.
IG Traffic, Alok Kumar said that due to heavy snowfall at Pir Panjal and Banihal and Lower Munda area, there was no chance of opening of highway tomorrow. He said Batote-Kishtwar- Bhaderwah and many link roads have been closed. No movement of vehicles has been allowed from the either side of the JT. He said if the weather improved tomorrow afternoon, the restoration work at Digdol, Mom Passi, Battery Chashma and other areas will be launched. The people should start journey only after taking clearance from the Traffic Control Posts at Srinagar and Jammu.
SSP Traffic NH, JS Johar said that there was nearly 1.5 ft to 2 ft snow at Batote and machines cleared road by this noon but it was snowing and raining causing disruption in the clearance work. He said the efforts were on to clear the road. Johar said at Nashri besides 2-3 ponits ahead of Ramban there was blockade due to shooting stones and falling of boulders. The road will be cleared if the rain stops and weather improves.
Chief Engineer, PDD (M&RE) Jammu Sudhir Gupta said that with snowfall and rain, about 200 transformers were reported to have been damaged during past two days in the region. He said with damage caused to the electric infrastructure, the power supply to many hilly and snow bound aras has been snapped. Gupta said supply to the main towns was restored by this evening while remote areas were still disconnected.
SSP Jammu Airport, Mohd Aslam said that seven flights from Jammu Airport remained suspended today that too, due to non-operation at Srinagar Airport for the last seven days. They included Air India, Go Air and Spicejet. He said Chopper service at Katra also remained suspended due to bad weather.
A MeT spokesman said that Jammu recorded a maximum temperature of 11.6 deg Celsius which was about 10 deg C below normal. The Temple city recorded a minimum temperature of 8.5 deg C, Katra minimum 6.4 deg C, Bhaderwah minus 0.6 while Batote minus 2,5 deg C. Banihal recorded 51 mm rainfall, Batote 44 mm, Bhaderwah 41.7 mm while Jammu 12.8 mm by 5 pm today since morning. He claimed that the weather will strat improving from tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile, cold wave conditions which started after early snowfall in first week of November, further intensified in Chenab region after Bhaderwah valley and other parts of the hilly region started experiencing heavy snowfall since last night, while moderate snowfall was also reported from Kishtwar, Gandoh and Doda areas of Chenab belt. Bhaderwah administration sounded snow alert today.
In view of heavy snowfall, Bhaderwah administration imposed Section 144 in Bhaderwah and it’s peripheral areas for the smooth clearance of snow from the roads, lanes and sub-lanes. Keeping in view the safety of the people, administration also sounded snow alert for the people residing on the slopes, where 4 to 5 feet snowfall has been recorded so far.
Entire Chenab belt and surrounding villages of Bhaderwah town experienced heavy snowfall, dipping mercury to the lowest level of the season so far and throwing normal life out of gear in this high altitude area of Jammu region.
Much to the delight of their eyes, people of Bhadarwah valley woke up on Friday morning to experience snowflakes and accumulation of snow around them. Although common people in general and those associated with Tourism industry in particular were beaming with joy and satisfaction but heavy snowfall has triggered extreme cold wave conditions in Bhadarwah and adjoining Gandoh Valley forcing the dwellers to wear warm clothes and to lit up bonefires and traditional ‘Bukharies’ (fire place) to keep themselves warm to ward off the extreme chill of fresh snow and cold wave.
Due to heavy snowfall, Bhaderwah-Doda road remained blocked for hours, while Batote-Doda-Kishtwar National Highway also got closed after landslide hits several areas but were partially restored by the authorities in the evening. Electricity and water supply also got effected in entire Chenab belt.
“The reports recieved so far from the surrounding villages of Bhaderwah valley which include Chinchora, Kansar, Shankhoja, Thanalla, Noori, which witnessed 4 to 5 feet snow, while 2 feet snow has been recorded in Bhaderwah town so far,” said ADC Bhaderwah Dr Rajinder Prasad Khajuria.
“We have deployed men and machinery to clear the snow from the roads since 6.30 am and have also asked PDD and PHE officials to restore the power and potable water supply at the earliest. As of now, we have stored enough stock of essential commodities and people need not to worry about the same,” the ADC added.
Doda and Kishtwar towns recieved 3-4 inches of snowfall. According to reports, higher reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Bhaderwah and Gandoh including Padder,Marwah, Sinthan Top, Mughal Maidan,Dessa, Gurmal, Siraj, Tanta, Gandri,Kabbi, Neel Top, Mahu, Mangat, Kharri, Gool, Ashapati, Kailash, Chattergalla, Jaie and other higher reaches received heavy snowfall since last 2 days.
Meanwhile, Thannamandi-Dera Gali -Bafliaz-Surankote Road besides Mandi-Loran-Mandi Sawjian roads in Rajouri and Poonch have also been closed. Reasi-Mahore-Gool and Chasana Roads besides Lati-Dudu-Basangatgargh-Ramnagar Road and Basohli- Bani roads were also closed. Heavy snowfall has been reported in the upper reaches of these areas.