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Highway partly reopens after 6-day closure

Srinagar, Jan 27: In a major relief to stranded passengers, the authorities Sunday allowed Srinagar-bound light motor vehicles (LMV) to ply from here as the strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway was reopened partially for traffic after six days of closure, a senior police officer said.

A fresh landslide struck the highway near Anokhi fall Sunday morning but men and machinery are on the ground and hopefully the traffic which was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar will be cleared, said Inspector General of Police, Traffic, Alok Kumar.

 

Reports said that around 1,000 light vehicles were allowed to proceed to Valley from Jammu and Udhampur in the morning after men and machines after night-long operation had cleared the road of landslides at Digdol, Battery Chashma, Margo, Gangroo and Anokhi Fall.

However, before these vehicles could cross Ramban, fresh landslides erupted at Marog blocking the road once again.

Meanwhile, another 1,000 vehicles, mostly load carriers, were stranded at Udhampur, sources said, adding that efforts were on to clear the landslides.
However, subject to fair weather conditions, the road was likely to be reopened for stranded vehicles on Monday morning.

The 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed on January 21 following heavy snowfall in the Jawahar Tunnel area–the gateway to Kashmir –and multiple landslides triggered by the incessant rains between Banihal and Ramban over the past week.

A massive avalanche had also struck the highway on Tuesday last, blocking both tubes of the Jawahar Tunnel on Qazigund side but the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which maintains the stretch of the highway, cleared the road for traffic, Kumar said.

Inclement weather hampered the early reopening of the road, leaving hundreds of vehicles, mostly trucks, stranded.

The stranded passengers held demonstrations in Jammu and Udhampur over the past couple of days against the administration for its alleged failure to make necessary arrangements for their stay and were demanding their airlifting to Srinagar as was the practice in the past during such situations.

“After reviewing the situation on the ground, the LMVs were cleared from Jammu to Srinagar Sunday morning,” the IGP traffic said.
He said efforts are on to clear the debris at the scene of the landslide to allow smooth passage of the LMVs and also to make it traffic worthy for heavy vehicles as well.

Meanwhile, the night temperature in most parts of the Jammu division marked an improvement with the city recording a low of 4.1 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night’s 3.7 degrees Celsius.

The snow-bound Bhaderwah town in Doda district was the coldest recorded place in the region with a low of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the MET department said.

He said the night temperature appreciated by over three degrees in Banihal town, which recorded a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius compared to previous night’s minus 6.2 degrees Celsius.

Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine, recorded a low of 3.8 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said.