Srinagar, January 7
The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for the second day today due to slippery road conditions following heavy snowfall and landslides during the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, more than 1300 vehicles, including those carrying passengers, are stranded on the highway, the only road linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country. However, traffic police and local authorities have shifted passenger vehicles to safer places from avalanche prone areas on the highway.
More than two feet to four feet of snowfall was recorded between Qazigund, both sides of Jawahar tunnel, Banihal and Patnitop on the highway. It was snowing at some places when reports last came in. However, in Ramban and Ramsu area there was rain triggering landslides and shooting stones, a traffic police official said.
He said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintainance of the highway have already pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to put through the highway. However, continued rain, triggering fresh landslides has hampered the operation to open the highway.
He said about 350 Jammu bound vehicles, including those carrying passengers, have been stopped in Qazigund area, gateway of Kashmir. However, exact number of vehicles stranded on other side of the tunnel was not known, he said.
The official said traffic on the highway will be resumed only after receiving green signal form traffic police personnel and BRO officials posted at different places on the highway.
Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police (Traffic) Showkat Watali said traffic on the highway was suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any accident. There was several feet of snowfall besides landslides at several places on the highway.
Mr Watali said there were more than 1300 vehicles, including those carrying passengers besides trucks carrying essentials and fruit stranded on both sides. Our first priority was to take the passenger vehicles and passengers to safer places from landslide prone areas, he said adding the local administration has been urged to provide all facilities to stranded passenger till the highway is reopened again.
However, he made it clear that no fresh vehicles will be allowed from Jammu or Srinagar untill all vehicles, stranded at several places are cleared towards their respective destinations.
Seeking cooperation from the passengers and truckers, the IGP said all measures are being taken only for the safety and security of the people undertaking journey on the highway.
He said people should contact Police Control Room (PCR) and traffic police before undertaking journey on the highway.
Meanwhile, the historic Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region remained closed due to over four feet of snowfall.
The road, which is being considered alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway, will now reopen only in April or May.