SRINAGAR : Hundreds of vehicles, mostly trucks loaded with essentials and oil tankers, remained stranded for the third consecutive day on Thursday following the closure of the 270-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway due to landslides and shooting stones, triggered by heavy rains.
However, the 434-km-long national highway, linking the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir and historic 86-km-long Mughal road are through for one-way traffic despite the rain. The Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, remained shut for the third day today due to landslides and shooting stone at several places, a traffic police official said today. He said National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has already pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to remove the landslides and put through the highway. However, continued landslides and shooting stones at other places due to rain was hampering road clearance operation. However, he said due to overnight rain there was shooting stones and landslides at several other places, including Penthal. The weather is also not favourable and efforts are being made to clear the landslides and other debris to allow traffic. Hundreds of vehicles, including trucks carrying essentials, oil and gas tankers besides passengers are stranded at Chenani, Udhampur and other places in Jammu region. Similarly, vehicles loaded with essentials, empty oil tankers and trucks are stranded on this side of the Jawahar tunnel.
Truckers and passengers, stranded since Tuesday alleged that due to closure of the hotels and other restaurants they are not getting anything to eat. They alleged that there is no water or urinals in the area where they have been stopped. A trucker, resident of Uttar Pradesh (UP) said he has a truckload of eggs which are going to rotten. I have to pay from my own packets if there is more damage to eggs, he said and appealed to authorities to allow trucks loaded with perishable items to move first for Kashmir valley. However, truckers from different states belonging to different faiths, stranded on the highway, said cooking their food jointly in the absence of any hotel or restaurants. Even some passengers, particularly women and children, were being fed by the truckers. A traffic police official said that once a green signal is received to restore traffic on the highway, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations before allowing any fresh traffic.
Passenger traffic remained suspended on the highway since March 5 due to COVID-19. Passengers having valid travel permit issued by Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir were being allowed to move. However, thousands of outside workers are also brought to Kashmir valley in recent months.
This is the second time the highway was closed for any traffic movement due to landslides and shooting stones during the past about one week. Earlier, traffic was resumed on the highway August 22 after remaining suspended for two days. Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region was also through for one-way traffic. Only trucks and other load carriers loaded with fresh fruit will ply from Shopian to another side of the Pir Ki Gali, a traffic official said adding no passenger traffic is allowed on the road, being considered alternative to Srinagar-Jammu highway.