The strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed for the third consecutive day on Wednesday due to multiple landslides in Ramban district, a traffic official said. “Snow clearance operation in Bannihal and landslide debris removal elsewhere has started. However, travellers are advised not to undertake any journey without contacting our control rooms in Jammu and Srinagar,” the official added. Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Basheer Khan has issued an advisory asking people not to undertake the journey till it is completely restored for traffic.
The highway was closed for vehicular traffic on Monday evening as a precautionary measure following the adverse weather advisory issued by the Met Department. Scores of valley-bound passengers were stranded in Jammu. They have been complaining of running out of money as hotels and restaurants have been charging exorbitant rates. The historic Mughal Road which serves as an alternate surface link between the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region, was also closed on Tuesday following heavy snowfall in the Pir Ki Gali stretch.
Minimum temperatures throughout the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region remained below freezing point on Wednesday as the ski resort of Gulmarg recorded the coldest temperature at minus 9.8. The weather office has forecast rain in the plains and snowfall in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir till Thursday. With the highway closed trucks were left stranded.
Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 6.5 and Kargil was at minus 5.8 degrees Celsius. Srinagar was at minus 0.7, Pahalgam at minus 2.1, Jammu recorded 8.8, Katra 8.2, Batote 1.1, Bannihal 0.6, Bhaderwah 0.4 and Udhampur was at 8.0 degrees Celsius, the Met said.
Srinagar city received the season’s first snowfall on Tuesday as higher reaches both in the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley received moderate snowfall. “Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam also received moderate snowfall,” the Met said. Plains in the Jammu region have been receiving rainfall since Monday morning.
Residents were pleasantly surprised to see a thin blanket of snow covering the landscape in the morning. “This is Kashmir. Without snow the landscape looks orphaned. If the government is able to provide basic amenities to the people, winter is undoubtedly the best season in Kashmir,” said Nisar Hussain, a retired chief engineer who lives in Gogjibagh. Snowfall in Gulmarg has brightened the prospects of winter sports at its ski resort.