Kashmir Indepth

Kashmir highway through, Leh and Mughal road still shut

Srinagar, Dec 22(KINS): The 270-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, was through for one-way traffic on Tuesday, a traffic police official said this afternoon.
However, a large number of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the Zojila pass following closure of the national highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir, due to heavy winds, accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions.
The historic 86-km-long Mughal road also remained closed due to accumulation of snow which has now frozen resulting in slippery conditions, a traffic police official told UNI today.
He said traffic was suspended on Srinagar-Jammu national highway after fresh landslides at Magarkote on Monday afternoon. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) immediately pressed into service sophisticated machines and men and the highway was put through after several hours.
Eyewitnesses told UNI over phone that there was massive traffic jam in the area and it took several hours to clear the Jammu bound stranded vehicles, particularly trucks.
Spokesman said today traffic was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar. Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) had to cross Nagrota Jammu between 0500 hrs to 1200 hrs and at Jakheni Udhampur between 0600 hrs to 1300 hrs. No vehicle will be allowed after cut off timing, he said adding Heavy Motor Vehicles (HMVs) will also ply from Jammu to Srinagar.
Security forces are also advised to ply from Jammu to Srinagar, he said adding commuters are requested to adopt Standard Operating Procedure (SOG) issued by the government to prevent spread of COVID -19.
There was no change in the situation on Srinagar-Leh national highway which remained closed for the past about a week due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the Zojila pass, where men from Beacon are working to remove the frozen snow on the highway, official sources said.
Large number of truckers, mostly from Punjab, said they are stranded alongwith their vehicles at Kargil, Drass and other places due to closure of the highway. ”We have no food and heating arrangements, they said and wanted that they should be allowed to travel to Srinagar. Several vehicles were damaged after drivers tried to defreeze frozen diesel and start their trucks, they said adding “ we are sleeping in the trucks in below freezing temperature as there is no arrangement from the administration.
Due to below minus 20 degree minimum temperature and sub zero maximum temperature, snow at Zojia pass had frozen, sources told UNI adding continued strong icy winds hampers snow clearance operation. Authorities are also using salt and urea to defreeze frozen road. Large number of vehicles from different parts of the Ladakh region are stranded at Sonamarg and other areas in the central Kashmir district of Ganderbal. Similarly, Kashmir-bound vehicles have been stopped at different places on other side of the Zojila in Kargil district.
Hectic efforts are going on to clear the snow by using sophisticated machines, salt and urea so that stranded vehicles are allowed to move towards their respective destinations before the highway is declared closed for winter months.
The Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region also remained closed due to accumulation of snow, sources said adding there is very little chance of reopening of the road which is seen as alternative to Srinagar-Jammu highway. The road which was this summer used for transportation of fresh fruit from Kashmir to other parts of the country, remained closed during winter months due to heavy snowfall.(KINS)

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