Srinagar: The strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed on Friday for the third consecutive day due to fresh landslides, leaving scores of vehicles stranded on the over 300-kilometre long road.
“Srinagar-Jammu national highway will remain closed today because of fresh landslides due to heavy rains during the night in Magarkoot and Battery Cheshma areas of the road in Ramban district,” a senior traffic department official told IANS here.
“No vehicle will be allowed to move on the highway today (Friday) as road clearance operations are going on,” said the official.
More than 1,500 vehicles including trucks, public and passenger transport vehicles and private vehicles are stranded at safer places along the highway that forms the landlocked Valley’s only surface link with the rest of the country.
Heavy nightlong rain in the Valley has again caused rise in the water levels of rivers, lakes and mountain streams here, though the Jhelum river is still flowing below the danger mark.
“Water level of Jhelum river was 13.7 feet at Sangam (Anantnag), it was 15.6 feet at Ram Munshibagh (Srinagar) and 11.3 at Asham (Bandipora) today (Friday) morning. The river is flowing much below the danger mark,” an official of the flood control department said on Friday.
Jammu and Kashmir cabinet minister Naeem Akhtar told IANS in Srinagar: “There is no flood threat anywhere in the state.”
“All the rivers are flowing below the danger mark. Spring season is otherwise also the wettest season in Kashmir, but because of last year’s unprecedented floods the absorption capacity of soil has been reduced and this is one reason for water-logging at many places,” he said.
“I want to assure everybody including the tourists to come here and be our guests. We are opening the famous Tulip Garden in Srinagar tomorrow. So come and enjoy your stay in the cool valley without any threat of floods.”
Most residents of flood prone areas in the city like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Wazirbagh, Gogjibagh and Bemina who had shifted to the houses of friends and relatives in the safer old city areas have started returning home.
Sonam Lotus, director of the local weather office has said there would be improvement in weather from Saturday.
“The western disturbance active over Jammu and Kashmir has weakened. We are expecting improvement in weather conditions from tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon,” Lotus said.