Snowfall cuts off Kashmir from rest of country

Srinagar : Life across Kashmir was hit for the second consecutive day Monday as moderate to heavy snowfall continued, cutting off the valley from the rest of the country.

The Srinagar-Jammu highway was blocked due to heavy snowfall in the Banihal and Patnitop sectors. The over 300 km long highway is Kashmir’s only road link with the rest of India.

No civilian flights could operate from Srinagar International airport Sunday because of bad weather.

Although authorities moved snow clearance machines in Srinagar and other district headquarters early morning, there was little traffic on the roads because of continuing snowfall and highly slippery road conditions.

The trans Line of Control (LoC) bus service Karvan-e-Aman between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was also cancelled because of heavy snowfall on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway.

The Kashmir University has cancelled all examinations in the valley scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

The disaster management cell has issued an avalanche warning for the higher reaches of Khilanmarg, Machil, Keran, Gurez, Tangdhar, Chowkibal and Uri.

People living in these areas have been advised not to move out of their homes.

“They must remove accumulated snow from their rooftops to avoid any mishap due to roof collapse,” said Amir Ali, in charge of the disaster management cell.

The state police has joined relief efforts in the valley. Hundreds of local policemen were seen removing snow from roads in Srinagar and other places of the valley Monday as well as Sunday.

“In order to mitigate the problems of the people, ambulances would remain available in all police stations of the valley. In case of any emergency, people are requested to approach the nearest police station,” a senior police officer said here.

Despite claims by officials that enough stocks of cooking gas and essential supplies were available in the valley, people in Srinagar and other places have been complaining of an acute shortage of cooking gas cylinders here.

“The fact that cooking gas is in short supply has been proved by the administration’s decision asking gas companies to sell cylinders filled with just five kg of gas to the consumers till the Srinagar-Jammu road is reopened,” said Bashir Ahmad War, a resident of Ganderbal.

People living in Srinagar and other towns of the valley have, however, appreciated the efforts of the local power development department which has been maintaining a steady supply of electricity here since the present snowfall started.

“The electricity department has been doing a commendable job. We are getting electric supply as per the announced schedule since the present snowfall started. It is a great effort. You know how much difference this makes, especially in the winter months,” said Junaid Ahmad Kawoos, a resident of Omar Colony in Srinagar.

“The minimum temperature was minus 2.2 degrees in Srinagar today while it was minus 5.3 in Pahalgam and minus 6.7 in Gulmarg. Snowfall equivalent to 14 mm of rain was recorded in Srinagar since yesterday, it was 16.8 mm in Qazigund, 18.4 mm in Pahalgam, 40.1 mm in Kupwara, 21.0 mm in Gulmarg, 14.4 mm in Kokernag and 50.4 mm in Banihal.

“The western disturbance active over the valley is likely to weaken by today evening and there would be decrease in precipitation from today evening onwards,” Sonam Lotus, director of the local met office, said here.

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