Rain, heavy snowfall disrupt normal life; 5 flights cancelled

Rain, heavy snowfall disrupt normal life; 5 flights cancelled

18 January 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Gopal Sharma

Jammu: Heavy rain and snowfall has put normal life out of gear as many roads in the hilly and mountainous areas of Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar, Reasi, Udhampur have been closed while power supply and tele-communication services stand snapped due to extensive damage caused to poles and other infrastructure since last evening. Five Srinagar bound flights from Jammu Airport were cancelled today and re-diverted to Delhi as Srinagar witnessed heavy snowfall and the light was insufficient to land and take off. SP Airport Ashok Sharma said Indigo, Go Air, Spicejet, Jetlite and Air India flights to Valley were cancelled and diverted back to Delhi and Mumbai. Entire Poonch district has been cut off as all the three roads connecting district headquarters via Thanna-Mandi, Dera ki Gali-Bafliaz, Rajouri-BG-Surankote and Rajouri-BG-Mendhar-Krishna Ghati-Poonch have been closed due to 2 to 3 feet snow-fall. Entire district has been plunged into darkness as power supply through 132 KV line via Thanna Mandi and 33 KV and 11 KV lines has been snapped to Surankote, Mandi and Poonch. About 50 odd electric towers are said to have been damaged- uprooted due to heavy snow fall and lands slides. Poonch town is said to have experienced such a heavy snowfall after 23 years. Today the banks, many shops in the markets and other institutions remained closed. There was three to four feet snow in Poonch town and many vehicles got trapped. Even in the lanes it was very difficult to move and most of the people stayed inside and or kept themselves busy in removing snow from roof tops. Deputy Commissioner Poonch A K Sahu has ordered the closure of schools and colleges after heavy snowfall for tomorrow. He asked the people not to stay at the places where there is danger of land slides or avalanche. He disclosed that due to felling of trees extensive damage has been caused to electric wires. Men and machines have been deployed to clear the main Poonch-BG road. He said from BG onwards, there is snow on 30 to 35 km road link. Mr Sahu said power supply has been badly hit and it will take some couple of days to ensure power supply. He said all the link roads are closed. The administration has set up two control rooms at the district headquarter in case of any emergency. According to Development Commissioner Power, M A Salroo, power supply was restored upto Mendhar by this evening and efforts will be made to completely restore power to entire district as early as possible. He, however, admitted that there were massive damages to the power infrastructure in the district. A Gujjar family, which was trapped in a muddy house in upper reaches of Hari Budha area, was rescued by the Army jawans. Some Army jawans in Sawjian area of Mandi had narrow escape as an avalanche smashed their bunker today. Though their belongings were buried under snow they had miraculous escape. Mendhar and Thanna Mandi, Bhudhal town also experienced heavy snow. Rajouri-Budhal (Kotranka), Khawas, Sar Bagga roads have also been closed. Chasana-Mahore-Gool Reasi road links also stand blocked. Power supply has also been hit in these areas. DIG Traffic, Jammu Shakeel Beigh said that Jammu-Srinagar, Jammu-Doda-Bhaderwah-Kishtwar roads have also been closed due to heavy snowfall at Patnitop, Banihal, Jawahar Tunnel, Bhaderwah and other parts of Ramban and Doda. He said over 200 vehicles have been trapped in Banihal and Ramban area while efforts are on foot to clear the highway. More machinery has been pressed into service. About 50 army vehicles got trapped in heavy snow near Shaitani Nallah last evening. They were rescued and made to return to their camp near Banihal late last evening. Heavy snow has made life of people miserable and land slides near Ramban (Seri) and one more place has disrupted the movement of traffic within that district. Reports from Udhampur and Kathua said that Ramnagar-Majouri-Dudu-Basantgarh road has been closed due to snowfall and power supply was totally snapped there. Basohli-Bani-Loang, Billawar-Machedi, Billawar Katli-Lohai-Malhar road links were also last night. Bani road has been closed due to snowfall and landslides near Kardoh and Magiar. There is no possibility of opening of this road in next 3 to 4 days, an official spokesman said. Meanwhile, Minister incharge R&B Abdul Majid Wani and Minister of State for Industries and Commerce & Home Sajjad Kitchloo reviewed the over all situation in view of rain and snowfall and asked the concerned engineers to clear the roads and press more men and machinery into service. They said focus should be there to restore Jammu-Srinagar National Highway besides Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road. For the purpose control rooms have also been established. Mr Wani said on the directions of the Chief Minister additional Control Rooms have been set up in Srinagar and Jammu and both Chief Engineers Kashmir and Jammu have been asked to supervise the rescue and restoration operation in their respective areas. He said BRO (GREF) men have also been requested to ensure speedy restoration of traffic on highway. Meanwhile, Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, Bhairon Ghati, Sanji Chat and Bhawan track upto Adh-Kuwari experienced fresh snowfall today.