Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow lashes Jammu Srinagar highway

Vehicular traffic on the 300 km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was again stopped, this evening, as a precautionary measure due to slippery road conditions and at-least 2000 vehicles were stranded at different places on the highway. More people fell ill due to outbreak of viral fever in Banihal villages today.

Our correspondent Khawaja Sharjeel from Banihal said that after the highway was cleared by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), it was reopened for one-way traffic in the morning. The smooth flow of traffic continued till late evening but due to fresh snowfall and rains, the traffic was stopped at 6.30 PM. At-least 4 inches of fresh snow accumulated on the highway near Jawahar Tunnel and 2 inches at Patnitop making the road slippery.At-least 750 vehicles stranded at a stretch between Patnitop to Banihal were to allowed to move towards the valley and out of these, 400 crossed the Jawahar tunnel till 5 in the evening.

The highway, the only surface link with Kashmir valley, was closed due to heavy snowfall, avalanches and landslides on the Jawahar tunnel-Banihal-Ramban-Patnitop stretch on January 15. However, due to a thick blanket of fog in Sher-Bibi area, where a major avalanche was cleared, Srinagar-bound traffic was stopped for some time as a precautionary measure but later trucks carrying essential supplies, including LPG, oil supplies and food grains, were allowed to move to Kashmir valley from Jammu.
The men and machines of the BRO worked overtime to clear the highway from heavy snowfall, two major avalanches and five landslides. The highway was lashed by heavy snowfall on January 15 and January 16 at Jawahar tunnel, Banihal, Batote and Patnitop areas. Two major avalanches also hit the arterial road at Nachalana and Shatani Nallah, while five landslides occurred at Digdol, Panthal, Sheri-bibi and Maroog and Shergarhi areas of Ramban district.

The inter-district highway of Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch has been restored for traffic even as Doda-Kishtwar is still closed due to snowfall at various places. Besides, most of the inter-district roads in Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and partly Kathua districts are closed due to heavy snowfall. The inter-state Bhaderwah-Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) road is also closed following nine feet snow at Sartangal Pass.

Our correspondent from Udhampur reported that due to the closure of the highway in the evening, over 2000 vehicles are stranded at various places, mostly at Udhampur and Nagrota areas of Jammu district. He said that in Udhampur, traffic was stopped at Jekhani, Bye-Pass, Mand, Dhar Road and Bali nallah. Normal life has been thrown out of gear due to fresh rains and snowfall in Udhampur district. Fresh snowfall was witnessed at Patnitop, Nathatop, Dudu Basantgarh, Latti Dhuna and Pancheri while the plains witnessed heavy rainfall.

Our correspondent from Reasi said that the people of remote areas of Mahore tehsil Reasi suffered huge loss of cattle. IAF carried out relief operations and dropped essential commodities, particularly food grains, in the mountainous belt of Reasi district, providing relief to people in the snow-hit area.

Intensifying relief operations to provide essential commodities to people trapped in the higher reaches of Mahore area of Reasi district owing to heavy snowfall and hostile weather conditions, the District administration in coordination with the Air Force, dropped several quintals of food grains in Gulabgarh area of the district. MI-17 Helicopters, fully loaded with food grains took off from the Reasi sports stadium and landed at Gulabgarh, to provide immediate relief to people trapped in inclement weather conditions.

Last year too, Indian Air Force Helicopters air-dropped ration and other material for people living in Dewal and Gandiala villages of Mahore area on December 13 during the first snowfall. Relief operations are being maintained under the close  guard of Jammu Divisional Commissioner Pawan Kotwal and district Development Commissioner of Reasi Sheetal Nanda with a thrust to ensure that all inhabitants of such area could get essential commodities.

According to Additional Deputy Commissioner, Rajinder Singh Tara, sufficient stock of food grains is available with different stores of the district especially in far-flung areas and every effort is being made to reach out to the people trapped in higher reaches due to snow.

Police handout said that cops are assisting the civil administration in snow clearance operation, besides offering all available resourses to help people in tough times. Parts of the district, particularly large parts of subdivision Mahore have witnessed more than 10 ft of snowfall over the past week. This abnormal situation has led to the disruption of supply lines of food grains and other essential items to the residents of the far flung areas of the subdivision. The adverse weather had also led to temporary suspensions of the major roads of the district, particularly the stretches between Arnas and Mahore, between Mahore and Chassana and between Mahore and Shajroo.

Police personnel actively assisted the district administration and the Border Roads Organization authorities in restoring the transport links so the essential commodities and people in distress could be transported to their respective destinations. So far no loss of life or limb and only minor damage to property has been reported in the district due to adverse weather conditions.

The handout further said that heavy snowfall in Doda district led to disruption of all essential services. In view of this, Joint Control Rooms were established at Doda and Bhaderwah respectively with civil administration and PMF to monitor the situation in the District. All SHOs/IC PPs, Operation groups in the district were kept on alert and were briefed to act as rescue operations.

The patrolling was got conducted by SHOs, IC PPs, Ops Groups in their AORs to reach out to people and redress their problems.  The communication network in the entire district was kept alive to monitor the situation and pass it on to senior quarters. SP Doda with Deputy Commissioner, Doda and a Representation of Police physically supervised the road clearance operation and restoring of essential services on Doda –Bhaderwah road, Doda-Assar Road, Doda-Gandoh road and Doda-Bhagwa –Bemina road respectively.

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