Highway Partially Open

Highway Partially Open

21 January 2012
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: After remaining closed for two days, the 300-kilometer Srinagar-Jammu highway was thrown open partially Saturday morning with 500 trucks crossing Jawahar Tunnel towards Valley by evening. Some trucks stranded at Jawahar Tunnel were also allowed to proceed towards Jammu. Talking to Greater Kashmir, Inspector General (IG) Traffic Police, Hemant Kumar Lohia, said that trucks on way to Srinagar were allowed to move this morning. “The traffic movement was resumed at around 11:00 am this morning and by the evening 500 trucks crossed the tunnel and we are hopeful to push more trucks,” he said. He however added that traffic movement is slow due to slippery conditions at several places on the highway. Lohia said the decision on allowing the transport on Sunday will be taken late night after assessing the weather and road conditions through feedback received from different agencies. During this month, highway remained closed for 11 days triggering shortage of essential commodities and leaving hundreds of passengers and truckers stranded. Chief Engineer BRO, Brigadier TPS Rawat, said they are working overtime to keep the highway open for traffic movement. “We have cleared snow from both lanes barring few spots and by tomorrow afternoon, we will make highway double lane vis-a-vis snow clearance,” he said. PTI reported that over 3,100 vehicles, mostly trucks and tankers, are stranded at various places of the highway including Banihal, Ramban, Patnitop, Udhampur and Nagrota for last one week following closure of the highway due to snowfall and landslides. Long queues of vehicles, mostly trucks, can still be seen on the highway on the outskirts of Jammu city, with passengers urging the Government to clear the road for traffic. The traffic on inter-district highway of Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch has been restored, while Doda-Kishtwar road has been closed in view of the snowfall at various places besides most of the inter-district roads in Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban. The inter-state Bhaderwah-Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) road has also been closed following heavy snowfall at Sartangal. In north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, the Chowkibal-Tangdhar road was re-opened today. Meanwhile, weatherman predicted that there will be inclement weather in the Valley next week. “There will be light to moderate snowfall on January 23, 26 and 27. Throughout the week, weather will be cloudy and there will be intermittent rain and snowfall,” he said, adding that the frequency of western disturbances was more in January compared to the last year. Lotus said there will be slight fall in day temperature and increase in the night temperature during next week. Srinagar recorded minimum temperature of minus 5 degree Celsius. Leh town in Ladakh recorded the coldest night of this season as mercury settled at a low of minus 21.8 degrees Celsius. Nearby Kargil town recorded a low of minus 21.0 degrees Celsius, making it the second coldest place in the state. Qazigund recorded minus 12 degree Celusis, Pahalgam minus 16.5 degree celsis, Kupwara minus 7.8 degree Celusis, Kokernag minus 9.9 and Gulmarg minus 16.2 degree Celusis last night. Meanwhile, 10 persons were rescued by joint team of police, tourism department and locals under the supervision of Deputy Superintendent of Police Tangmarg. However, six among the rescued which included four skiers and two guides sustained minor injuries, a police handout said. “At about 1245 hours today, a snow avalanche occurred at Haptkhud two kilometers to the left of Kungdoori-Apharwat ridge. After receipt of this information a joint rescue operation was launched by Baramulla Police, Tourism Department and locals of the area under supervision of Muhammad Yousof Choudary, sub divisional police officer Tangmarg. The joint party rushed to the spot and rescued all the seven foreign tourists and three local tourist guides from the avalanche by utilizing the services of Heliski helicopter,” a police spokesman said. Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority, Mehmood Shah said timely intervention by heli-skiers saved the life of skiers and guides.