Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was restored for stranded vehicles after the road maintenance agency cleared the landslide and prepared a single-lane road at Cafeteria Morh Ramban, and Maroog late Sunday evening.
Traffic Control Unit (TCU) Ramban confirmed that stranded passenger Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) in Ramban town and Maroog were allowed to proceed towards Jammu at 8 pm.
“One-way traffic has been restored on NH-44,” Deputy Commissioner Ramban tweeted on his official Twitter handle later in the evening.
Earlier, the highway remained closed for the better part of Sunday on the third consecutive day due to snowfall and multiple landslides between Nashri and Banihal sectors passing through Ramban.
Officers of traffic police and district administration said after improvement in the weather, men, and machinery of road maintenance agency NHAI were pressed into service. They cleared the accumulated snow on both sides of the Jawahar tunnel, Banihal-Qazigund tunnel besides Banihal and Ramsu stretches.
Officials said the road restoration work between Ramsu and Nashri was going on in full swing as more machines were pressed into service to clear the huge landslides at Magarkote, Panthyal, Maroog and three other places between Chanderkote and Ramban. The road restoration work at Khooni nallah had not started yet.
A manager of a company engaged by NHAI Vipan Singh, who is monitoring the road clearance operation ahead of Cafeteria Morh, Ramban, said that four machines were pressed into service to clear the debris accumulated in the 200-meter road stretch between Mehar and Ramban.
He said that intermittent sliding of shooting stones from hillocks was, however, hampering the road restoration work. He said that a landslide at Duggi Pulli, near Chanderkote, was cleared on Sunday.
Singh said, “Road clearance operation at Maroog, where a huge landslide had blocked the road, was also expedited by pressing more machinery into service.”
Deputy Commissioner Ramban Mussarat Islam personally monitored the road restoration works ahead of Cafeteria Morh, Ramban, and Maroog.
Senior Superintendent of Traffic Police National Highway Ramban Shabir Ahmed Malik said that Udhampur to Mehar one-way road stretch was cleared for traffic whereas a road clearance operation between Mehar and Ramban was going on.
Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed on Wednesday afternoon due to incessant rains, shooting stones, and mudslides that had occurred at several places between Nashri and Banihal sectors.
However, after a slight improvement in the weather on Thursday morning, stranded passenger Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) and vehicles carrying essential commodities were allowed to move to their respective destinations after stand-by machinery of road maintenance agency NHAI cleared the landslides. But overnight rains and fresh spell of snowfall on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday again triggered landslides, shooting stones between Nashri and Banihal resulted in the closure of the highway since Friday morning.
Management of road maintenance agency NHAI, responsible for up-keep of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was hopeful that the highway would be fully restored for traffic by Monday evening.
Meanwhile, after three days of the wet spell, weather conditions in Kashmir improved on Sunday, with 28 flight arrivals at the Srinagar International Airport, providing a respite to the hundreds of stranded travelers.
Flight operations since Thursday mostly remained suspended due to poor visibility at the airport even though a few flights took off intermittently.
However, with a considerable improvement in the weather as predicted by the weatherman, 28 flight arrivals were seen at the airport on Sunday, Director Srinagar Airport Kuldeep Singh told Kashmir Post.
He said 5 flights were canceled on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the weather remained mainly dry on Sunday, though there were reports of snowfall at a few places in Doda and Kishtwar districts. Meteorological Department Srinagar has predicted dry weather in Jammu and Kashmir till January 16 with a drop in night temperature.
“Weather likely to remain dry till January 16. Expect gradual rise in day temperature and fall in minimum (night) temperature,” read the statement issued by MeT Department.
The department warned of avalanches in vulnerable spots.
“Although snowfall has ceased, still the threat of avalanche exists in snowbound areas. So, people are once again requested not to venture out in avalanche-prone areas and remain cautious especially during the next 1 to 2 days,” read the MeT statement further.
Meanwhile, Srinagar recorded a maximum temperature of 4.4 degrees Celsius on Sunday. Qazigund, Kokernag, and Pahalgam recorded high temperatures of 5, 3, 2 degrees Celsius respectively.
Kupwara and Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, registered maximum temperatures at 6.5, -1.0 degrees Celsius respectively. Bhaderwah remained the coldest place in the Jammu region on Sunday, recording a maximum of 6.1 degrees Celsius. Jammu city, Banihal, Batote, and Katra recorded the day’s maximum temperatures at 19, 10.4, 8.3, and 14.0 degrees Celsius respectively.
Gulmarg tourist resort in north Kashmir reeled under extreme cold as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point at most places in the valley, officials said on Sunday.
The resort recorded a low of minus 10 degrees Celsius during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, a drop of more than five degrees compared to the previous night’s minus 4.6 degrees Celsius, MET officials said.
They said Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, dropping more than a degree.
Summer capital Srinagarwas the only place to record minimum temperature above freezing point as the minimum settled at 0.3 degrees Celsius during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, the officials said