Valley remains cut off from country, flights to resume soon

Kashmir remained cut off from rest of the country for the third consecutive day today as the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was blocked due to snowfall even as authorities were trying to operate flights to the Valley in view of improving weather.

Although there was no fresh snowfall this morning, the 294-km arterial Srinagar-Jammu road remained closed for the third day today, officials said. "The highway is closed for third day today due to heavy snowfall and slippery road conditions in Jawahir tunnel-Banihal-Patnitop stretch of it," according to police.

Due to the closure of the highway, over 2,600 vehicles were stranded at various places in Jammu district. Over 1,300 Kashmir-bound passengers are stranded at Jammu bus stand, they said.
The men and machines of Border Road Organisations are working to clear the highway.

The morning flights to and fro Srinagar International Airport could not operate due to poor visibility but officials of Airport Authority of India said they were hopeful of resuming air traffic this afternoon. "The runway has been cleared of snow and we expect the visibility to improve later in the day," AAI officials said.

As the snowfall stopped, life across the Valley started limping back to normal with markets opening after remaining closed for past two days. Public transport facilities also improved after the snow clearance grid restored all major roads and link roads in the Valley.

Despite moderate to heavy snowfall over past two days, electricity supply in the city and major towns of the Valley remained unaffected. The closure of the highway has resulted in shortage of essential commodities like LPG cooking gas, kerosene, fresh vegetables, chicken and mutton. The prices of these items have also increased since the road was closed on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the inter-district highways of Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch and Jammu-Doda-Kishtwar has also been closed in view of the snowfall at various places. Besides, most of the inter-district roads in Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban and partly in Poonch, Rajouri and Kathua districts are also closed due to heavy snowfall.

The inter-state Bhaderwah-Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) road is also closed following 9 feet snow at Sartangal Pass. The snowfall, which began on Saturday night and stopped late last night, has brought much needed respite to the residents of the Valley as the minimum temperature continued an upward trend for third consecutive night, a MeT official said.

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, last night recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius -- an increase of one degree compared to previous night, he said. Gulmarg skiing resort in north Kashmir, where mercury had stayed 10 to 12 degrees below freezing point since new year, recorded a minimum temperature of minus 8.7 degrees Celsius, the official said.

In rest of the Valley, the night temperature hovered around minus 3.5 degrees Celsius.

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