Vehicular traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained suspended for the fourth straight day on Wednesday following more snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides at many places between Banihal in Ramban district to Udhampur.
Eight people were also rescued after their vehicles got trapped in a mudslide near Panthial in Ramban district late Tuesday, officials said on Wednesday.
The highway has been closed since Sunday following heavy snowfall and incessant rains which triggered multiple landslides.
Additional director general of police, T Namgyal said there has been fresh snowfall on both ends of Jawahar Tunnel and landslides at several places along the highway.
Landslides and mudslides at Panthial, Marog, Mom Passi, Digdol, Mehad and Dhalwas were yet to be cleared.
Although the road stretch between south portal of Jawahar Tunnel and Banihal was cleared of snow, the stretch between north portal of the tunnel and Quazigund was still to be cleared.
Officials said stranded vehicles along the highway have been taken to safer places amid continuous rain and snowfall.
“The road clearance operation is going on at a war footing to ensure early restoration of traffic on the highway which is blocked at over a dozen places including Samroli, Nashri, Dalwas, Peera, Chanderkote, Cafeteria Morh, Marog, Monkey Morh, Mom Passi, Seeri, Kela Morh, Panthiyal, Sherbibi, Rattanbass and Ramsu,” a traffic department official said.
A group of tourists from Rajasthan had a narrow escape along the highway near Panthial when a landslide hit their vehicle.
Police said the tourists were rescued and were safe.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the weather was expected to improve from Thursday.
“Weather is improving gradually and significant improvement is expected from Wednesday afternoon but light rain and snow will occur at scattered places of Jammu and Kashmir for the next 24 hours,” said IMD director Dr Sonam Lotus.
“Now onwards, there is no forecast of any major snowfall. From Thursday weather is likely to remain mainly dry till January 14,” he added.
The Traffic police have said that no fresh traffic movement will be allowed on the highway on Thursday as well.
“On January 7, no vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar highway from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice-versa in view of snow accumulation around the Jawahar Tunnel, landslides/shooting stones/mudslides at Samroli, Dalwas, Cafeteria Morh, Sitaram Passi, Bai Nallah, Digdol Army Camp, Magerkot, Gangroo, Salad,” said a traffic official.
Meanwhile, Flight operations at the Srinagar airport resumed on Thursday morning. The Srinagar-Jammu national highway is still closed due to landslides and heavy snowfall.
Kashmir had been cut off from the rest of the country for the past four days. “We are happy to have restored and resumed flight operation just after heavy snowfall and bad weather condition without leaving any stone related to safety parameters for aircraft operation. We welcome our esteemed passengers again.@Aaisnrairport @aaiRedNR@AAI_Official,” tweeted the official handle of Srinagar airport.
“As temperature is below freezing point it is advisable to keep your self warm and fit .In terminal building Srinagar airport, comfortable temperature maintained and look after by our electrical team.We are at your service@Aaisnrairport@AAI_Official @aaiRedNR.
Meanwhile, the meteorological department director said that after passing of the Western Disturbance, foggy morning is normally observed in Kashmir Valley because of moisture and a clear sky. “Visibility will definitely improve with the rise of temperature.”
Officials said they have restored links between districts despite facing difficulties.“At some places in southern Kashmir, more than four feet of snow has accumulated,” said a senior official.
He said at many places the snow machines have failed. “Our control rooms are functioning as from four days the snow has been going in Kashmir.”
Locals have complained that snow hasnt been cleared from the roads at several. “The administration is only visible on the social media and on ground people are facing lot of problems,” said Faheem Ahmad a city resident.