Snow, Rains Lash J&K; NHW Blocked

Snow, Rains Lash J&K; NHW Blocked

22 February 2013
Kashmir Times
Syed Yasir

Srinagar: As downpour continued for the second consecutive day in plains with snowfall in upper reaches of Jammu & Kashmir, the maximum temperature has shown decline resulting in chill with Jammu-Srinagar national highway remaining closed for fresh traffic since this morning. Kashmir valley experienced fresh snowfall in the upper reaches and rains lashed plains of the state. Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed for vehicular traffic movement following blockade of the road due to snowfall that triggered landslides at several places. The maximum temperature also witnessed a dip following fresh snowfall. Srinagar and its adjoining areas experienced light snowfall but the snow did not accumulate. The upper reaches of Kashmir valley received heavy to moderate snowfall. Hundreds of trucks were stranded on Srinagar-Jammu National highway as the landslides triggered by snowfall and heavy rains closed the highway at various places between Patnitop and Jawahar tunnel in the wee hours of this morning. The road had become slippery in view of continuous snowfall on both sides of Jawahar tunnel. Rains had triggered landslides between Panthial and Nachlana. While nearly 300 vehicles including trucks were stranded between Batote and Jawahar tunnel. A traffic spokesman said that the highway has been closed due to fresh snowfall at Patnitop, Jawahar tunnel, Banihal and Qazigund since early this morning. The spokesman also said there was about one feet of snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel. The snowfall and rains triggered landslides in Ramban sector at six places on the highway. The peripheral areas of famous hill resorts of Pahalgam in South, Gulmarg in north and Sonamarg in Central Kashmir recorded heavy snowfall. Plain areas of Kashmir valley also received snowfall and rainfall, leading to drop in maximum and minimum temperatures. Reports said rains and snowfall in higher reaches started last evening and few inches of fresh snow had accumulated in Srinagar and its adjoining areas this morning. Divisional Administration has put the disaster management grid on standby to meet any eventuality due to snowfall and rains. District towns of Baramulla, Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam witnessed fresh snowfall and rains. The MET department has predicted rains and snowfall in most parts of the Kashmir valley over the next two days even as cold wave continued unabated in the region. The MET has also predicted rains in most parts of Jammu region over the next two days. The MET department has issued an advisory warning land and air transport systems may be disrupted during the next two days as the western disturbances are continuing, which cause rains and snowfall all over the state. In Srinagar, the minimum temperature was recorded at six degree Celsius, the MET department spokesman said, adding the city received 21.4 mm rainfall. The gateway town of Qazigund received 6 centimeters of snowfall and witnessed a minimum temperature of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, a fall of 4.2 degrees below normal as compared to yesterday. Kupwara district received five centimeters snowfall and 30.7 mm rainfall, recording the low of 0.5 degrees Celsius, he said, adding that Pahalgam received 13 cm snowfall and 37.0 mm rainfall with the minimum temperature plunging to minus 2.0 degrees Celsius. The Meteorological Department has issued heavy rain or snow warning at some places over the state in the next 36 hours. The department has forecast that light to moderate rain or snow would occur at many places over the State till February 24. 'A western disturbance is developing over the state and it will affect Jammu and Kashmir and adjoining areas from the afternoon of February 21 till the afternoon of February 24. Due to this weather system, moderate snowfall over hills-rains (in plains) will occur at most places of Pir Panjal ranges in Kashmir division and at many places of Jammu region and at a few places over Ladakh region,' said Sonam Lotus, Director, Meteorological department in the weather advisory. Lotus said that some places of Pir Panjal range may receive heavy snowfall on February 21 to 24. During the two days, the day temperature will fall by 4-5 degree Celsius and night temperatures will rise by 1 to 2 degree Celsius. Considering the prediction of the metrological department, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon has directed all District Development Commissioners, heads of departments and district Superintendents of Police to activate their men and machinery to be in a state of preparedness, so as to ensure minimum disruption of essential services in the Valley due to snowfall. Khawaja Sharjeel from Banihal reported that three youth were rescued when they were trapped in a snow avalanche at Aarang Kalimasta. After receiving information about this incident SDPO Gool Deepak Digra rushed to the place of incident. After the hectic operation, three youth were rescued from the snow avalanche. They were identified as Zafar Iqbal son of Jammal Din of Kalimasta, Mohammed Afzal son of Abdul Gaffar of Dharam and Mohammed Zaffar son of Ghulam Abbas of Dharam. Afzal and Mohammed Zaffar is said to be injured and were shifted to Army hospital Kalimasta Gool for first-aid. Traffic authorities stopped vehicles at Banihal and Ramban at about 8:30 PM last night due to heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel as precautionary measure. About 180 heavy and light motor vehicles remain stranded at Banihal and Ramban town since last night. However, these were allowed to move towards Kashmir at 1 PM after clearance of snow at NH from Jawahar tunnel to Banihal by BEACON authorities. Meanwhile, traffic movement was restricted at 6.45 PM at Banihal as it was heavily snowing at Jawahar Tunnel and Banihal, told BK Ganju DySP Banihal to KTNS. “We have pressed men and snow clearance vehicles to remove snow from national highway at 6.15 AM today. Snow was cleared from South Portal to Banihal for one way traffic at 11.30 AM. From North Portal to Wojru on Kashmir side snow was cleared at 10.00 AM. BEACON authorities made national highway green for traffic at 11.30 AM today and traffic authorities allowed traffic at 1.00 PM. Snowfall restarted at 5.00 PM today which made surface of NHI-A slippery,” said JE BEACON. Besides heavy snowing at Banihal heavy rush was witnessed at Shrine of Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani (Rehmatullah Allahi) at Krawah Banihal. Hundreds of followers offer prayers whole night at Krawah shrine. People despite heavy snowfall throughout the day attended ‘Khatmat’ and have a glance on holly things. Thousands of followers from different parts of district Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar and Anantnag reached shrine of Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA) at Krawah Banihal to attend Urs. Snowfall recorded at Jawahar tunnel is 1.8 feet, one feet at Banihal, Mangit 3.6 feet, Mahu 4 feet, Neeltop 3.6 feet, Chamalwas 1.6, Higwah 3.8 feet, Bava 2.3 feet, 3 feet at Aramnakha. When contacted Tehsildar Gool Bashir-ul-Hasan he told KTNS that only 3 inches snow was recorded at Gool, but it was heavily raining there. One house also got damaged at Thatarka Gool while Ramban-Gool road was closed for vehicular movement after a landslide struck at Chapri Nallah. In Jammu, hundreds of passengers got stranded at General Bus Stand, Jammu. They criticised the local administration for not making adequate arrangements for their boarding and lodging. They demanded to shift them to valley by air. Meanwhile, hundreds of trucks carrying essential commodities were stranded at different places in Sidhra on Bye-Pass road and at Nagrota. Shakeel Ahmad Beig, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Traffic Police-Jammu said that hundreds of load carriers and passenger vehicles got stranded because of the landslide. The blockade was caused by rolling boulders. 'We are trying our best to co-ordinate with the Border Roads Organisation to clear the road, but heavy rains and snow are hampering clearance work,' Beig said. The 100-km stretch between Patnitop and Banihal is blocked with sand and stones dislodged by snow and rain at over a dozen places. 'Also, there is heavy snow on both sides of Jawahar Tunnel, which will take some time to be cleared. And work on clearing it can continue apace only once it stops snowing,' Beig said. Bad weather conditions have snapped telecommunication links, and electricity supply in Jammu region has been disrupted too. The meteorological department in Jammu has forecast rains and snow for another 24 hours 'due to western disturbances'. Whereas the downpour continued in the plains of Jammu, upper reaches experienced fresh snowfall. Several link roads in Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and Kishtwar were closed.