Srinagar: Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the seventh day, following closure of the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway, due to continued landslides and shooting stones.
However, traffic was allowed for a brief period last evening, only to be suspended again due to fresh landslides and shooting stones.
‘Stranded vehicles were allowed last evening towards their respective destination after the landslides were cleared,’ a traffic police official told UNI, adding that traffic was again suspended after fresh landslides.
‘The weather is pleasant today and a massive operation to clear the landslides is going on. We cannot take chance and will not allow traffic, till the landslides and shooting stones continue,’ he said.
Several thousand Kashmiri passengers, including women and children, are stranded at Jammu and other places. Leaders of different political parties visited Jammu bus stand and met the stranded passengers.
Meanwhile, the national highway, connecting Ladakh region with Kashmir and the historic 86-km-long Mughal road, remained closed on Sunday, due to accumulation of several feet of snow.
He said continuous landslides, particularly between Ramban and Banihal, have badly affected the clearance operation by the National High Authority of India (NHAI) and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
Once the road is put through, only stranded vehicles on the other side of the Ramban will be allowed to proceed towards Kashmir, the official further said, adding ‘We will allow passenger traffic at Jammu and Udhampur, once all stranded vehicles are cleared’.
He said there was no Kashmir-bound vehicle stranded between tunnel to Qazigund. However, Kashmir-bound vehicles were stranded on the other side of the Banihal, he added.
Meanwhile, a large number of trucks, loaded with fruit and empty oil tankers, have been stopped at Qazigund for the past about a week.
Kashmir-bound passengers, including women and children, stranded at Jammu bus stand, demanded airlifting to Kashmir.
‘We have no money to stay in hotels,’ they said and demanded the government to make arrangement for their stay in Jammu, till they leave for Kashmir. Leaders of political parties met stranded passengers and assured them to take up the issue with the administration.
The 434-km national highway, the only road linking the Ladakh region with Kashmir, remained closed due to accumulation of snow, for the past about two months.
‘Fresh snowfall was also received at Sonamarg, Zojila pass, Zero point and Meenmarg on the highway during the past 24 hours,’ a Traffic Spokesperson said, adding that the road between Kargil, the border town on the highway to Leh, was through. The road is likely to reopen in March or April.
The historic 86-km-long Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region, also received fresh snowfall during the past 24 hours. The road is closed for the past two months, due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition.
The road from Anantnag in south Kashmir to Kishtwar in Jammu, also remained closed, due to accumulation of snow.