Kashmir remains cut off with rest of the country for 3rd day

March 19:The national highway, connecting the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country remained closed for the third day today due to fresh landslides and shooting stones, triggered by heavy rain.
However, more than 1000 vehicles, mostly carrying passengers, which were stranded on the highway for the past two days, were allowed to move towards their respective destinations yesterday afternoon after the road was reopened briefly before fresh landslides at Sher Bibi and Penthal, a traffic police official said this morning.
Meanwhile, hundreds of vehicles, including those carrying passengers, and trucks including those carrying essentials for the Valley, are still stranded at different places on the highway.
Meanwhile, the National Highway, linking the Ladakh region with Kashmir valley, historic Mughal road and Bandipora-Gurez and Synthan-Kishtwar roads also remained closed since December last year due to accumulation of snow.
Dozens of villages, including those near the Line of Control (LoC) also remained cut off from their respective district and tehsil headquarters in north Kashmir due to fresh snowfall.
A traffic police official said  that the highway, connecting the Valley with the rest of the country, remained closed today also due to shooting stones and landslides at several places, particularly at Penthal and Sher Bibi. There was also fresh snowfall at Jawahar tunnel, Banihal and Shaitan Nallah early this morning.
He said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintainance of the highway are already on the job to put through the traffic. However, at some places portion of road had been badly damaged due to landslides, triggered by heavy rain. There was heavy rain during the night and if weather improves, the highway could be put through for one-way traffic later in the afternoon.
However, he said if the road is put through again only stranded vehicles would be allowed to move towards their respective destinations. No fresh vehicle from Jammu or Srinagar will be allowed before all stranded vehicles are cleared, he said.
He said since there is a forecast for more rain during the next 24 hours, decision to allow fresh traffic will be taken only after getting green signal from BRO and traffic police officials posted at different places on the highway.
He said traffic was being suspended for the safety and security of the passengers. All those who had planned to undertake the travel must contact Police Control Room (PCR) or Traffic Control Rooms (RCRs) at Jammu or Srinagar before starting the journey.
Meanwhile, hundreds of light vehicles, including those carrying passengers, which left Jammu and Srinagar yesterday before the road was closed, are stranded on the highway at different places.
Truckers stopped at several places on the highway alleged that they are stranded for the past four days. Although we have enough stock of essentials with us, but there is no water at a place where we have been stopped, they alleged.
Hundreds of trucks loaded with essentials for the Valley could be seen parked on one side of the highway for the past three days due to road closure. Similarly large number of empty trucks and oil tankers could be seen stranded at Anantnag, Qazigund and Jawahar tunnel.
Traffic official said rainfall during the past more than a week has resulted in shrinking of existing road formation at some places due to which two heavy vehicles cannot pass simultaneously at these locations. However, to avoid any accident or traffic jam, authorities had imposed restriction on traffic movement on the highway.
He said the restrictions would continue till the BRO completes the repair work and the stretches could be made worthy for two way traffic.          Officials said when the traffic will be resumed, passenger and private vehicles will be allowed to ply from both sides while heavy vehicles will ply from one side only with some restrictions. However, no heavy vehicle will be allowed from opposite direction till further orders.
The historic Mughal raod, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region remained closed since December last year due to accumulation of snow.
However, early reopening of the road, which is seen as alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway, suffered a set back following three to four feet of fresh snowfall during the past 72 hours.
Though the snow clearance operation had been started from both sides of the Pir-ki-Gali early this month, fresh heavy snowfall has delayed reopening of the road. Shopian also received moderate snowfall while the upper reaches had heavy to very heavy snowfall during the past 48 hours.      The Synthan-Kishtwar road also remained closed for all sorts of traffic since December last year due to snow.
The Ladakh region remained cut off from the rest of the state since December last year due to accumulation of several feet of snow. However, due to less snowfall this winter, the road was scheduled to reopen a month early this year. But fresh snowfall during the past two days has hampered snow clearance operation.
There was fresh snowfall at several places, including Zojila, Sonmarg and Meenmarg on the national highway, official sources said adding the snow clearance operation by BRO was going on from both sides to put through the highway.Though the snow clearance operation on Zojila pass was also completed last week, but fresh snowfall could cause some delay in reopening of the highway.
This time the BRO had announced that the highway would be put through for traffic about a month earlier because of less snowfall this time. The Centre has already approved construction of a tunnel at Zojila to make it an all weather road.
The road linking the border town of Gurez and dozens of other villages near the Line of Control (LoC) with district headquarter Bandipora remained closed since December last year. There was also fresh snowfall on all upper reaches in the north Kashmir.
A number of other roads, linking Kerna, Karnah, Tangdhar and Machil also were closed due to heavy snowfal

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