Srinagar: The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway, connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, was closed again on Thursday due to fresh snowfall and landslides since early this morning.
Meanwhile, the national highway, the only road linking Ladakh region with Kashmir and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained shut since December last year due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions.
Traffic on the national highway was suspended again this morning due to fresh snowfall on both sides of the Jawahar tunnel, Shaitan Nallah and Banihal and rain in Ramban area, a traffic police official told UNI this morning.
About six to seven inches of snow had accumulated at Jawahar tunnel due to which the road has become very slippery forcing authorities to suspend traffic movement.
The Banihal to Ramban stretch, particularly Aknokhi Fall, Digdol and Penthal, was badly affected, he said adding there is a forecast for more rain and snow during the next 24 hours.
He said the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway, have already put into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the snow and landslides on the road.
However, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations before allowing fresh traffic from Jammu or Srinagar, he said adding people intending to undertake the journey on the highway are requested to contact Traffic Control Units (TCUs) set up in Srinagar, Jammu and Ramban before starting the journey.
Meanwhile, people alleged that despite announcement by traffic authorities that only one-way traffic will be allowed on the highway, vehicles are being allowed from both sides which is resulting in frequent traffic jams for hours.
We remained stranded for over six hours on Wednesday as traffic authorities had allowed vehicles from opposite direction when traffic was to ply from Srinagar to Jammu only, said an agitated passenger Abdul Rashid over phone from the highway. There was total confusion and chaos in the absence of any traffic police official, he alleged. He said large number of Jammu bound vehicles, mostly carrying passengers, are stranded at Nougam as they could not move forward last night due to traffic jam before the highway was again closed due to landslides and shooting stones. Some of the passenger vehicles returned back to Srinagar after the highway was declared closed again last night.
The highway was closed for about 12 days due to snow, landslides and shooting stones in January this year.
The 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway linking Ladakh region with Kashmir also remained closed due to accumulation of snow, particularly between Sonamarg-Zojila-Meenmarg and Drass. There was also fresh snowfall early this morning at several places on the highway. However, the snow clearance operation will be started next month only.
Meanwhile, the Government of India (GoI) has decided to issue a fresh tender for construction of a tunnel at Zojila to make the Srinagar-Leh national highway all weather road.
The historic Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region also remained closed due to snow accumulation. Similarly Anantnag-Kishtwar in Jammu region, also remained shut due to accumulation of snow.