Snowfall CUTS OFF Kashmir

Road, Air Traffic Halted; Govt Monitoring Situation; Kashmir University Postpones Exams

Srinagar, Jan 18: Kashmir continued to receive heavy snowfall for the second consecutive day Friday, cutting off the Valley from the outside world.
The State Government set up special cells to monitor the situation and suspended air and road traffic to and from the Valley in the wake of season’s major snowfall. The weatherman predicted that conditions would improve by Saturday morning.
The snowfall which started late Thursday afternoon all across Kashmir continued till Friday afternoon. However, in rural and hilly areas there was no let up. “It was snowing heavily almost in entire Kashmir till Friday afternoon,” said Director Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus. “The system (western disturbance) will weaken by Saturday morning which will improve the conditions.”
The ski resort of Gulmarg in North Kashmir and tourist resort of Pahalgam in South Kashmir received around four feet and two feet of snowfall respectively. It was around two feet each in Qazigund- gateway to Kashmir- and Banihal, along the Srinagar Jammu highway, and one to two feet in different districts including Budgam, Ganderbal, Kupwara, (Anantnag) Islamabad and Shopian. The summer capital, Srinagar received around 5 inches of snowfall.

Inter and intra district road connectivity was hit as authorities did not clear the snow off the roads till this morning. The traffic remained completely suspended in far off villages and peripheral areas of the districts.
People accused state administration of failing to press into service men and machinery to ensure smooth traffic movement. In Srinagar city the traffic movement remained thin and many commercial establishments including shops remained closed at many places.
However, an official said, “Around 100 snow clearance machines were pressed into service across Kashmir to ensure smooth inter-district connectivity.”

The Srinagar-Jammu highway which was closed late Thursday afternoon remained shut for traffic movement today also due to heavy snowfall and avalanche threats at many places along the road.
“Around 200 vehicles, mostly trucks, are stranded at various places along the highway and district administrations have been asked to make arrangements for the stranded passengers,” an official said.
He said the decision on allowing the traffic on the 300-km highway would be taken on Saturday if weather improved.
The snowfall hit the air traffic in Kashmir as well. “No flight operated to and from Kashmir Valley today,” sources said. The situation was alike in Jammu where flights could not take off due to continuous rainfall.

Kashmir University has postponed all the examinations scheduled for Saturday, said PRO of the varsity. The university had postponed all examinations scheduled for Friday as well.

For the second consecutive day, the state administration issued high danger to medium danger avalanche warnings in areas including Nawgam, Keran and Gurez sector and higher reaches including Chowkibal, Tangdhar, Machil in north Kashmir.

On the directions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, two control rooms, one each at Kashmir and Jammu, were established to monitor the situation, said Minister for R&B, Mechanical Engineering Department, Abdul Majeed Wani. An official handout said Omar was monitoring the situation.
Minister of State for R&B, Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo said opening the Jammu-Srinagar highway was priority of the Government.
“We are in touch with BRO and GREF authorities to ensure early resumption of traffic on this route,” Kichloo said.
He along with Provincial President National Conference Jammu, Davinder Singh Rana, met stranded passengers in Jammu and ordered for free boarding and lodging facilities to them.
Meanwhile, Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Abdul Rahim Rather has asked the Disaster Management Committees both at Divisional and District levels to respond to the emerging situation to provide relief to people.

Meanwhile, an official handout said the Minister of State for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Ahmed Khan is monitoring situation in Kashmir following fresh snowfall. “The Minister, who had gone to Srinagar the other day was in continuous in touch with the all the Deputy Commissioners throughout the day,” he said. “He took brief from them about snow clearance operation in these districts and the stock and supply position of essential commodities.”
The spokesman said Khan directed all the Deputy Commissioners to “personally monitor” snow clearance operation and ensure that the people don’t feel any scarcity of essential commodities including food, gas and kerosene.

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