Snowfall shuts highway, disrupts air traffic

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 12

Intermittent snowfall across most parts of the Kashmir valley on Saturday led to the closure of the 300-km Srinagar-Jammu highway, the main surface link between the summer and winter capitals of the state, and also disrupted air traffic in the region.

A part of the fifth spell of snow this winter, the intermittent snowfall continued in the region for the third day.

The snowfall was reported from Srinagar and also parts of north and south Kashmir. It led to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway for all vehicular traffic, an official of the traffic department said.

The official said heavy snowfall along the mountainous stretch of the highway near the Jawahar Tunnel forced them to halt the vehicular movement which was plying from Jammu towards Srinagar.

The snow accumulation has also forced a continued closure of two other key roads, Mughal Road and Srinagar-Kargil highway, which lead in and out of the Valley, the official said.

The snowfall also disrupted air traffic over the region as some flights were cancelled and some were delayed due to low visibility during morning hours and forenoon.

The weather department in its forecast bulletin said precipitation was likely to end from Sunday. Sonam Lotus, director of Srinagar Meteorological Centre, said a gradual improvement in visibility was expected in Srinagar and weather will improve in the next 24 hours.

Kashmir is witnessing an exceptionally bitter winter this season as back-to-back spells of snowfall in past two months have caused widespread disruptions and weather has remained freezing cold.

The overnight temperature in the region continued to remain below the freezing point even as mercury hovered close to zero degree due to the overcast sky. The minimum temperature during next few nights is likely to drop drastically.

500 stranded vehicles cleared 

Banihal: Over 500 passenger vehicles were cleared on Saturday evening despite snowfall which disrupted traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, officials said. The traffic on the highway was suspended around 11 am due to slippery conditions between Shaitani nullah and Verinag, leaving hundreds of Srinagar-bound vehicles stranded, said Deputy Superintendent of Police, Traffic National Highway, Pardeep Singh Sen. However, over 500 passenger vehicles which were stranded between Banihal and Ramban were allowed to move towards Srinagar later in the day after the authorities pressed men and machines to clear the snow which had accumulated on the ground around Jawahar Tunnel. Almost all passenger vehicles were cleared, while efforts were on to clear the heavy vehicles carrying essentials to the Valley. PTI