Traffic restored on NH; link roads still blocked in Doda, Kishtwar

A pregnant woman being taken to hospital in snow-clad Bhallessa area of Doda on Saturday. — Excelsior/Tilak Raj
A pregnant woman being taken to hospital in snow-clad Bhallessa area of Doda on Saturday. — Excelsior/Tilak Raj

* Weather improves in Jammu region

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Jan 14: The traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was restored today after repair of damaged steel tunnel at Panthyal and clearance of landslides in Ramban area while many link roads in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban are still blocked due to heavy snowfall.
The power supply to many snow bound areas in the region is still suspended while there has been improvement in the flight and trains operation in the region due to sunny day today.
The chopper service and battery car operation to Katra Mata Vaishnodevi was restored today after two days while, the on- foot pilgrimage remained smooth due to improvement in weather condition. Click here to watch video
Due to snowfall at Patnitop and Nathatop, the rush of domestic and outside tourists increased today at these spots but the authorities imposed some restrictions in view of clearance of single road from Patnitop to Nathatop-Sanasar road and increasing rush. It was sunny day throughout the region today and the day temperature also showed sharp increase.
In view of the clear weather in the region, the flight operation by and large was normal at Jammu airport while train services operation has also witnessed some improvement for the last couple of days. After rain for the last two days, fog has vanished at most of the places in the region and with this the train and vehicular service has improved.
An official spokesman said that steel tunnel at Panthyal in Ramban was badly damaged due to falling of boulders last night. It took long time to the National Highway authorities to clear the Highway. At several places, mudslides and landslides were also cleared during morning hours and the highway was restored at around 12 noon.
An official spokesman, however, said that due to snowfall and rain across Jammu and Kashmir the light motor vehicles were allowed from both sides, Jammu as well as Srinagar, at around 11.30 am after the highway was cleared of accumulated snow between the Qazigund-Banihal stretch and mudslides and landslides at several places in Ramban sector.
However, he said the road clearance operation was still on to make the highway traffic-worthy for heavy motor vehicles. Most parts of Kashmir and high altitude areas of Jammu including Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and Patnitop hill resort experienced snowfall.
Meanwhile, other plain areas in the Jammu division including the highway townships of Ramban and Udhampur were lashed by rains on Friday.
The inclement weather forced the closure of the traffic on the highway due to slippery conditions coupled with mudslides and shooting of stones from the hillocks overlooking the highway at Mehar, Cafetaria Morh and Panthyal where a steel tunnel also suffered damages from the rolling boulders.
The officials said the road clearance operation was intensified this morning with improvement in the weather and the highway was reopened for vehicular traffic.
An ambulance, carrying the bodies of two labourers who died in an avalanche in Ganderbal district, was allowed to move towards its destination in Padder area of Kishtwar late Friday evening.
The labourers working with a Hyderabad-based construction company, executing work on the Zojila Tunnel along the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, were killed in the avalanche on January 12.
The bodies of the deceased were handed over to their families for last rites, the officials said.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban, Mussarat Islam, has been closely monitoring the ongoing snow and slide clearance operations in the district. Most major and other link roads have been restored, with work still in progress on the remaining roads closed due to snowfall and landslides, an official said.
In addition to the road clearance efforts, he has also ordered senior officers from various departments, including Jal Shakti and JPDCL, to restore water and power supplies in the majority of the areas affected by the heavy snowfall.
For the convenience of local residents, the Deputy Commissioner has ordered all senior officers to ensure regular essential services and supplies are provided to them.
Meanwhile, due to the lack of road facilities in Gandoh, Bhalessa and Dhadkai area of Doda, the local people are facing a lot of problems. There is no road connectivity in several villages even today. The population of the village is around 8000, in which 100 people are deaf and dumb and 100 percent ST population. The ailing patients and pregnant women are taken to the hospital on cot and many people die on the way due to lack of timely treatment, including elderly and pregnant ladies besides children.
Today, amidst heavy snowfall the villagers removed a pregnant woman from Dhadkai village to Gandoh hospital on cot. People have requested the LG administration and DC Doda to prepare the DPR of the road and start the work on it.
Pakkal- Dul Hydroelectric project road in Kishtwar was blocked due to landslide today. However, it was restored after 3-4 hours by the authorities.
Meanwhile, strong winds damaged a triple-storey residential house at Channan- Sair Sailan area of Surankote in Poonch.
Reports said house owner, Mohd Kabir, son of Mohd Din that on Friday evening at about 6 pm, strong winds started blowing suddenly and damaged his house. There was no loss of life but it left family shelterless.
Kabir urged administration to visit and provide assistance so that the they may not suffer in this harsh winter season.
BDC Chairperson, Shafiq Mir said that he has telephonically brought the matter in the notice of Deputy Commissioner Poonch and he has assured to assist the family.