Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed for 22 of 37 days so far this year
Srinagar, Feb 8: Srinagar- Jammu National Highway remained closed for traffic for nearly 22 days in the first 37 days of this year.
For rest of the days, the 294-kilometre highway has either remained partially open or restored temporarily to allow stranded vehicles on the route.
Kashmir received first snowfall of the year on January 2, which forced immediate closure of the highway after landslides and avalanches were reported at many places on the route.
The closure left more than 700 vehicles, including 250 passengers vehicles stranded at Udhampur and other Jammu areas.
While the highway was partially opened for the next day, it witnessed another closure for two more days till January 6.
On January 10, the valley received another spell of snowfall due to which highway was again closed for at least three days.
After clearing the snow on January 13, authorities allowed one way traffic on the route for nearly a week as weather during the period remains mostly dry.But the clearance process couldn’t last for long as the highway was again closed for traffic for the next five consecutive days.
After resuming the route, which facilitated one way traffic for three days, again closure of the route was witnessed on January 30 and 31.
The month of February also began with the closure of the route and has witnessed partial traffic for just three days in last one week.
While the heavy snowfall caused loss of the human lives in many parts of Kashmir, at least 10 persons including eight policemen and two fire servicemen have gone missing after avalanche hit a police post near Jawahir tunnel.
The closure of the national highway has resulted in the hike of prices of the essentials besides causing immense inconvenience to the locals and tourist.
Nearly, 1000 students couldn’t appear in the scheduled GATE examination as both highway and air traffic remained disrupted for days together.
Similarly, an undue hike on the prices of the essentials have been witnessed particular on the rates of chicken and mutton.
Mutton, currently costs Rs 450 per kilogram instead of government scheduled rate of Rs 400 Per kilogram. Spinach which few days before was sold for Rs 40 to 50 per kg is now sold at Rs 70 to 80 per kg. Similarly, onion is being sold around Rs 30 to 35, when less than a month ago it was only Rs 20 only.
The closure of this vital route is compounding to the losses of the business community who say that traders from both the sides loose Rs 30, 000 cr on average daily during highway blockade.
“Each day goods worth Rs.30, 000 are being exported and imported to the Valley. So now you can imagine how much loss it accounts to the people on both sides with the blockade of National Highway,” Shaqeel Qalander, a prominent economist and civil society activist said.
Meanwhile, the strategic 300 km-long Srinagar-Jamu highway road remained closed for the third consecutive day on Friday due to heavy snowfall and landslides, police said.
No traffic was allowed on the highway on Friday due to multiple avalanches in the Banihal area and landslides in the Ramsoo-Ramban area. Avalanches that occurred between Qazigund and Jawahar Tunnel those are yet to be cleared, traffic department officials said.
Incessant rain in Ramsoo-Ramban triggered landslides at Panthal, Anokhi Falls and Battery Chashma.
Fearing that the restoration of the highway could take at least three more days, the divisional administration has ordered rationing of petrol and diesel in the valley.
An order issued by Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir has directed petrol pumps not to supply more than three litres of petrol per vehicle per day and just 10 litres of diesel to commercial vehicles until further orders.
Air traffic has also remained suspended on Friday between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall and poor visibility.
9Meanwhile, the MET office has forecast an improvement in the weather conditions as the western disturbance causing heavy rain and snow in the state is expected to move away Friday evening.