Srinagar, Feb 07: Normal life on Thursday came to a standstill in Kashmir after the snowfall continued since last evening across the Valley, thus forcing the continuous closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway as well as the air traffic to and from Srinagar.
The Valley received fresh snowfall from Wednesday evening and continued in the night, bringing chill back to the Valley. The temperature had increased from last couple of days following the improvement in weather conditions but the fresh snowfall in the Valley led to the dip in the temperature here.
The lack of preparedness can be gauged from the fact that over a feet snow was accumulated at various places in Srinagar on Thursday, disrupting vehicular traffic. Even the roads leading to hospitals remained under snow.
“Most of the critical roads to SMHS hospital are not cleared of snow. It took me 1 and a half hour to reach hospital from Soura to Karanagar. Allah knows how many ailing patients have lost their appointments,” Dr Khawar, who works at SMHS Hospital Srinagar, said.
Most people preferred to remain indoors as snow and water logging made many roads inaccessible. Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Lalbazaar, whose mother had an appointment with a doctor on Thursday, said, “I don’t know how to reach SKIMS Soura as roads have not been cleared. I would have prefer to stay at home had we no appointment with the doctor.”
Shabir, who car was stuck in snow at Nowshera, added. “There is no accountability. The government has left people at the mercy of God.”
Mohammad Sharif, a resident of Zakura reached SMHS Hospital after walking several kilometres. “From my home, I saw dozens of vehicles stuck in snow. It took me two hours to reach the hospital,” he said.
The problem also compounded due to strike by Srinagar Municipal Corporation employees who seek redressal of their issues. “The government could not put into services all snow clearing machines due to employees strike. The government has failed to address issues of employees due to ongoing tussle between Mayor and Deputy Mayor,” an official of SMC said.
A video has also gone viral where the residents of Sheeri from north Kashmir’s Baramulla carry pregnant lady from the upper part of Namblan village. They said they crossed the distance of about 3 to 4 kms as roads leading to Primary Healthcare Centre Sheeri were not cleared from snow.
Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Kokernag said that students preparing for different exams are not able to study in absence of the electricity. “We are without electricity for last many days and government is not paying any heed. The roads have not been cleared,” Shabir said.
Imtiaz Ahmad, a resident of Gowran, Kokernag said, “People have been suffering terribly due to non-clearing of roads. The road from Gowran to Madwa-Wadwan is completely closed.”
Similarly, people also faced water logging due to lack of drainage system. “There is immense water logging in our area due to lack of drainage system,” said Ghulam Jeelani, a resident of Qamarwari.
The water logging and accumulation of snow created immense traffic jams. There were traffic jams at Tourist Reception Centre, Jehaingir Chowk, Batamaloo, Budshah Chowk, Rambagh, Dalgate, Sonawar, due to accumulation of snow and water logging.
Meanwhile, the government in a statement said, “We have pressed in men and machinery to clear the inter district roads and resume the connectivity. Likewise the men from Power Development Department are trying to restore the electricity supply.”
Deputy Mayor SMC Sheikh Imran said, “I was out of country and reached Delhi, but due to cancellation of flights I am stuck here. I have directed the concerned departments to expedite the process of snow clearance and water logging in war footing basis.”
Reports said landslides were triggered at several place on the road due to snow and rains.
Authorities in wake of fresh snowfall have issued avalanche warning for people inhabiting upper reaches and areas close to the Line of Control (LoC).
People in the snowbound areas were urged to take precautions and not to venture on steep slopes during the next 48 hours.
The weatherman here predicted continuous snowfall till Friday afternoon, saying that the weather across the Valley would improve from Friday afternoon.
Director Meteorological department, Sonum Lotus said that the moderate snowfall was experienced in most parts of the Valley since Wednesday evening. “The higher reaches of the Valley including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Pir Panchal, Sonamarg and others received moderate to heavy snowfall since last night,” he said.
He added that the MeT is predicting improvement in weather conditions from Friday afternoon.
However, several inches of snow was seen accumulated on the roads in Srinagar and others districts as no road clearance work was executed by the concerned authorities, thus causing immense hardships to the commuters as well as pedestrians.
The locals especially from Srinagar areas said the authorities concerned have utterly failed to execute the road clearance work in their areas. The snow on the roads had triggered slippery conditions of the roads here due to which the commuters had to face tremendous hardships, who later appealed officials concerned to clear the roads so that they (commuters) could heave a sigh of relief.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan told that the situation is under control while as men and machinery has already been pressed to clear the snow and ensure every basic facility to the people of Kashmir.
The road clearance work has already been started but at some places, the heavy snowfall is occurring, therefore halting the work, he said, adding that all the roads will be cleared shortly and other facilities will be provided to the people soon.
“I am personally monitoring the situation and am reviewing it after every hour,” he said, adding that the priority is to ensure proper and adequate facilities to the people. “We are working since this morning. Electricity and other facilities will be restored soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, two incidents of snow avalanches were reported from areas of Ramban district today.
Reports quoting officials said that a snow avalanche hit Mahoo village of Ramban district in which six houses came under avalanche. However, all the civilians and their livestock were already shifted from the area following predictions of snowfall.
In another similar incident at Mangat village, a snow avalanche hit three houses in which fifteen animals including ten goats and sheep are buried under snow. However, no loss of human life has taken place in both these incidents.
Meanwhile, in view of inclement weather conditions, the Srinagar-Jammu highway continued to remain closed for the second straight day today.
Officials toldthat the landslides occurred in Ramsoo-Ramban sector triggered by the fresh snowfall while as the continuous snowfall in Banihal led to the continuous closure of highway.
Notably, the frequent snowfalls, avalanche and shooting stones had led to the frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway since January 01 this year, causing hardships to the commuters who were travelling on the either sides of the roads.
Meanwhile, air traffic was also suspended today by the authorities following the prevailing weather conditions and poor visibility.
The officials in Srinagar Airport said that at least 25 flights to and form were suspended on Wednesday while as the poor visibility continued for today, thereby led to the suspension of all the flights scheduled for today.
Srinagar Airport on its official twitter handle also informed the suspension of all the flights for today, saying that “due to bad weather and heavy snowfall at Srinagar Airport all flights are cancelled for today.”