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Highway ban: PDP, NC hit streets in protest

All went well on Sunday: Govt

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Apr 7: Two top mainstream political parties National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hit streets on Kashmir highway in the outskirts of Srinagar to protest ban on the movement of civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
National Conference workers led by party president and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah staged a demonstration in the outskirts of Srinagar on Kashmir highway.
Talking to reporters Abdullah warned the central government of more intensifying protests if the ban is not immediately revoked.
PDP workers led by senior leader and former Minister Mohammad Ashraf Mir staged a protest demonstration near Nowgam Chowk and alleged that Kashmir is being changed into a prison but PDP will thwart all attempts of encroachment on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir.

All went well on Sunday: Govt
Monitor News Bureau
Jammu, Apr 7: The J&K government Sunday said that the arrangements made by it for the convenience of the public on the National Highway 44 during the restricted travel period on NH, was “quite successful” on the first day of the traffic prohibition.
As per an official handout, the movement of civilian vehicles in Kashmir Division and Jammu Division remained normal in all interior roads except for the NH where only exempted categories of vehicles were seen plying.
“As per the reports gathered from the DCs of Pulwama, Anantnag, Budgam and Baramulla, special permission passes were given to 128, 210, 45 and 110 vehicles, totaling 493 vehicles, falling in the exempted categories. Passes were issued in Udhampur and Ramban also. These vehicles were given passes for traveling on the Highway,” read the handout.
It claimed that a large number of vehicles were allowed to cross the NH at various crossings in all districts.
“In Srinagar, over 2,000 civilian vehicles crossed Panthachowk towards various destinations along the National Highway. Further, normal civil traffic movement was observed in various areas including Tengpora, Shalteng, Parimpora, Nowgam, Batamaloo, Sanatnagar, Bemina Chowk, Hyderpora, Chanpora and Narbal Crossing where over 10,000 vehicles crossed the NH unhindered. In Anantnag, around 3000 vehicles crossed the NH at various crossings,” it said.
Many people used alternate roads, especially the old NH where available, and other internal routes to commute and also to reach Srinagar, thus completely avoiding the NH.
It is pertinent to mention that students appearing in various exams also reached in time as their roll number slips were treated as passes.
All emergency cases, medical or otherwise are being cleared without any delay. Doctors and businessmen who have to attend their establishments on the NH were allowed without any problem. From the overall proceedings of the day, it appears that the movement of vehicles was hassle free, although heavier on alternate routes. It may be mentioned that the local administration made extensive arrangements to facilitate the movement of public through the provision of Travel Passes through a Nodal Officer in each district for covering (i) various emergencies, including medical, (ii) school buses, (iii) students appearing in any examination, (iv) Government employees on duty (iv) hospital staff on duty, (v) passengers travelling by air, (vi) political persons needing to campaign, etc. on production of requisite identification documents.
Besides, over a 100 Executive Magistrates were on duty today along the NH from Baramulla to Udhampur from 5 a.m., to ensure smooth movement of Security Forces’ Convoy and also facilitate smooth civilian movement.
The Government stated that the regulation of civilian traffic during movement of Security Forces’ convoy had to be notified for two days a week, in the larger interest of security of everyone and appealed to people to extend full cooperation in the smooth regulation of traffic as was the case on Sunday.
“The restrictions are, in any case, applicable upto 31st May 2019 only. The total duration of prohibition is for 26 hours out of 168 hours in a week, which is 15% of the time. Further, the total number of restricted days is just 15 during this entire period. 8 of these are Sundays. Planned restrictions, with active facilitation of the public by the administration for exceptions and emergencies, is far more convenient to the public so that they can plan their movements in advance. As movements reduce, the restrictions will be relooked. The State Administration is committed to ensure the least inconvenience, particularly on the two notified days, i.e. Sundays and Wednesdays. This should set at rest any misgivings and also give the true situation on the ground on Day 1 of the restriction.”

 
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Lead Stories

Another spell of snow this week

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Nov 10: Kashmir should brace up for a second spell of wet weather as officials have predicted widespread snow and rains on Friday and Saturday this week.

An official at the local Meteorological Department said there will be widespread snow and rain in Kashmir on November 15 and 16 (Friday and Saturday) even as the weather till then will remain cloudy with rainfall in isolated places.

“We are experiencing western disturbance over Kashmir which is going to worsen by the end of this week. There are chances of widespread snow and rainfall although its intensity would not be as much as last week’s snowfall,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.  

 

Kashmir experienced a record breaking November snowfall last Thursday that took everyone by surprise and left a trail of death and destruction across the region.

With electricity and other essential supplies still erratic in most of the places, the heaps of snow on roads and lanes are not melting given that sunshine has stayed aloof these days.

Meanwhile, the so-called all-weather highway connecting Kashmir to the rest of the world was again blocked on Sunday.

Thousands of commuters were stranded on the highway after a massive landslide blocked the road in Ramban in the afternoon, only hours after traffic resumed on the route.

Traffic on the highway resumed around 3 am on Sunday after remaining suspended for over 13 hours following a massive landslide near Mahar – two kms short of Ramban town.

Road clearing agencies worked hard to ensure early opening of the road, but the fresh landslide, covering around 100 metres of the road with debris, played spoilsport, officials said.

The landslide struck near Digdole and at least 12 hours are needed to make the arterial road traffic-worthy. Men and machines have been pressed into service to clear the debris, they said.

According to the officials, hundreds of passenger vehicles and trucks carrying essential commodities to the Valley crossed the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — since Sunday morning.

However, the fresh landslide left over 1,300 vehicles stranded on the highway, they said.

Traffic on the highway remained suspended on Thursday and Friday after Kashmir Valley and high altitude areas of Jammu region, including Jawahar Tunnel, experienced first major snowfall.

Heavy rains, which lashed the highway from Banihal to Jammu, was causing frequent landslides, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the Mughal Road, which connects the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, remained closed for the fifth day on Sunday, they said.

The road was closed for traffic on Wednesday after heavy snowfall between Pir Ki Gali and Shopian stretch.

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Snow fury: Patient inflow to hospitals drops by 10%

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Nov 10: Shedding snowflakes off his tweed pheran, 32-year-old Zubair Ahmad heaves a sigh of relief, as he enters the gates of SMHS hospital, Srinagar.

Hailing from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Zubair’s tryst with valley’s first snowfall began on a sad note. His mother developed a searing pain in the stomach on the night of November 7, when all the arterial roads were covered with thick layers of snow.

“Last week, my mother underwent gall bladder surgery. She was doing well until the night of November 7 when she suddenly complained of pain in her stomach. Despite our best efforts, my family members couldn’t ferry her to the hospital. The snow accumulated on the roads made the commute impossible,” he said.

 

Next morning, Zubair pleaded before several Sumo cab drivers to ferry his mother to the hospital, but it too turned out to be another herculean task.

“The roads remained covered with snow next day as well. All the drivers that I approached refused to undertake the journey. It was after a lot of persuasion that one of the drivers finally agreed but he charged Rs 1700,” he says.

Similarly, 40-year-old Mehraj-ud-din from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district suffered in equal measure due to heavy snowfall.  His sister’s surgery scheduled on November 8 got deferred as she was unable to reach the hospital.

“A lot of trees were uprooted outside our home. Besides, the snow clearance of roads was yet to start from our side. As a result, I was unable to take my sister to the hospital,” Mehraj narrates.

It was on the afternoon of November 9 that he finally managed to reach the hospital.  “After a lot of haggling, the Sumo driver settled at Rs 1200 to drop us at SMHS hospital.” he says.

On November 8, the unprecedented snowfall, one of the heaviest in recent years left a trail of death and destruction. More than nine people were killed and property worth 100 crore rupees got damaged due to the snowfall.

Consequently, the hospitals in the valley also witnessed a decreased patient inflow.

An official at the Government Super-Specialty hospital, Srinagar said only 30-40 percent patients have visited the hospital for last three days.

“The patients especially the ones who had to come from peripheral hospitals as referrals faced a lot of inconvenience. The administration has shown a lackadaisical approach in dealing with the snow crisis,” he said wishing not be named.

Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital Dr Nazir Chowdhary admitted that the patient inflow has dropped. “There has been 10 percent decline in patient inflow for the last three days,” Chowdhary said.

Medical Superintendent of SKIMS, Farooq Jan said: “We were fully geared up to deal with the crisis. However, patient inflow decreased by 10 percent since Wednesday.”

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Reverse migration:Life comes a cropper for non-locals in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 10:  On a chilly November morning, tailor Suresh Kumar along with his four family members is busy loading his belongings including a switching machine into a cab at Tourist Reception Center, here.

Kumar, who has been living in Kashmir for the last 15 years, has cut-short his stay to leave for his home in Uttar Pradesh. Scared after 11 non-locals including truckers, apple trader and labourers were killed, Kumar decided to call it quits and leave for his hometown in UP.

“All my associates from Anantnag left for their homes. I don’t think it will be a wise decision to stay here especially when many non-locals have been attacked in the last one month,” he said.

 

Kumar has joined a long list of migrant workers who have either left or winding up their businesses to go home following attacks on non-locals in Kashmir.

A cab driver at TRC said on an average nearly 10 to 20 taxis leave for Jammu with migrant workers on board.   “Mostly non-locals would leave for their homes in mid-November.  In October, people, who would work in north or south Kashmir areas, have left for their homes,” he said.

Non-locals have been leaving the valley since August 5 when central government abrogated article 370 and bifurcated state in two union territories.

Official figures reveal three lakh migrant labourers left Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370. In August last year, five lakh migrant labourers were present in Kashmir. This August only two lakh labourers stayed in Kashmir.

Migrant labourers are the backbone of the workforce that performs different jobs including harvesting apples in Kashmir. Since local labourers are scarce, migrant labourers are skilled and inexpensive.

“Growers had to face immense hardship in absence of non-local labourers.  Even fruit markets where they would load apples, remained deserted this year,” said Ghulam Mohammad a grower from Pattan area of North Kashmir.

The migration of non-local labourers also hit developmental works in Kashmir. An official of Roads and Building Department said work on many of their projects have been stopped due to the absence of non-local workforce.

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