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Jammu-Srinagar highway still closed

Jammu, Jan 24: The Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day following fresh snowfall in Bannihal sector, an official said.
Although the debris of an avalanche that hit the Jawahar Tunnel has been removed and both tubes made functional, traffic cannot be allowed on the highway as the road has turned slippery, Senior Superintendent of Traffic Police in Kashmir Muzaffar Ahmad Shah said.
“The decision has been taken keeping safety of travellers in mind. A big landslide had also hit the highway in Anokhi Fall area of Ramban district due to incessant rain,” Shah said.
Intending travellers have been advised not to undertake the journey without contacting the control rooms in Jammu and Srinagar.
The strategic highway is regarded as the lifeline for the landlocked valley as all essential supplies are routed through this road.
Closure of the highway especially during the winter months helps hoarders and profiteers hike prices of essentials by creating artificial scarcity.
Two persons went missing after a snow avalanche struck Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district late Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Intermittent snowfall has been experienced in the rest of the valley also since Thursday morning, a MET department official said.
Meanwhile, the cold wave conditions intensified in Kashmir as the minimum temperature at most places witnessed a drop last night.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar last night settled at minus 1.5 degrees Celsius down from minus 0.3 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said.
He said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 3 degree Celsius, a dip of one degree celsius over the previous night.
The nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 6.7 degrees Celsius last night as the mercury dipped 1.4 degrees compared to previous night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 2.4 degree Celsius, he said.
Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 12.6 degrees Celsius last night, a dip of 2 degrees over the previous night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of 14.2 degrees Celsius, a dip of nearly eight degrees over previous night.
The mercury in nearby Kargil settled at a low of minus 18.4 degrees Celsius.
Kargil was the second coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir, after Drass town where the minimum temperature settled at minus 19.3 degrees Celsius. Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai-Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).