Highway shut, flights canceled​, Airline takes stranded flyers ‘For A Ride’

Fresh snowfall in Kashmir Wednesday yet again led to closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway and cancellation of flights at the Srinagar airport, even as the local meteorological department predicted more precipitation in next 24 hours.
A meteorological department official said snowfall started in Valley during the night and continued throughout Wednesday, albeit intermittently.Some areas in southern Kashmir experienced heavy to moderate snowfall, he said.
Srinagar recorded 19.7mm mix of rain and snow, Qazigund 8.8mm, Pahalgam 4.8mm, Kupwara 14.8mm, Kokernag 5.2mm and Gulmarg 30.6mm.
In southern Kashmir, he said, Sedow area in Shopian recorded 18 inch snow, Hirpora 20 inch, Kellar 10 inch, Kulgam 8 inch, and Pulwama 6 inch.
The Met department predicted widespread light to moderate rain and snow over the state during the next 24 hours.

Highway Closed
The Srinagar-Jammu was closed for traffic Wednesday morning after fresh downpour triggered landslides at some places, inspector general of traffic police Alok Kumar told Kashmir Post.
He said landslides, some of them massive, hit the road at seven places including Battery Chesma, Anokifall, Panthal and Gangroo.
“The road clearance operation is underway but it gets hampered because of frequent shooting stones and fresh landslides,” Kumar said, adding that at Gangroo, men and machinery are on job to clear a landslide for the past five hours.
Kumar said nothing can be yet said about re-opening of the road because the Met department has predicted more snow and rains.
“The intending travelers must contact traffic control units at Srinagar and Jammu before leaving for their destinations,” he said.
A report said around 2000 vehicles, mostly trucks, are stranded on the road. However, the IGP Kumar claimed that these were “local vehicles” from Ramban, Banihal and other areas.

12 Injured as boulder hits vehicale
At least 12 passengers, including a woman, were injured after their vehicle was hit by a boulder along the Jammu-Srinagar highway, officials said Wednesday.
The Jammu-bound vehicle was hit by a shooting stone from a hillock overlooking the highway at Moumpassi-Ramsu in Ramban district late Tuesday evening, causing serious injuries to the woman, who is from Bihar, and minor injuries to 11 others, they said.
Most of the injured were discharged after first aid, while the woman who has suffered head injuries, has been referred to the government medical college hospital Jammu, they said.
Nine Bihar residents and one each from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were travelling from Srinagar to Jammu in the vehicle driven by a local driver from Anantnag, the officials said. 
They said the incident Tuesday evening did not have any impact on the movement of vehicles on the highway and later the authorities decided to continue traffic from Srinagar to Jammu on Wednesday as well.
However, the decision was reviewed Wednesday morning after which no traffic was allowed on the highway following fresh snowfall in the higher reaches and incessant rains in the plains.
The Jawahar tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir, experienced fresh snowfall leaving the road slippery, while incessant rains triggered landslides and shooting-of-stones at several places including Anokhi fall, Battery cheshma and Panthiyal, the officials said.
The highway remained closed for over 15 days since the beginning of the New Year owing to intermittent spells of snowfall and rains. On Tuesday, the one-way traffic was allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu after five days.

Airline takes stranded flyers ‘for a ride’
Dozens of Kashmir-bound passengers stranded at the Jammu airport following cancellation of their flights Wednesday accused a private carrier of taking them for a ride.
Taking to Kashmir Post over phone from Jammu, the passengers said the carrier asked them to claim refund or wait for more than a week to fly home following cancellation of their flight due to bad weather.
“We have bought tickets last month for 4000 rupees, but now they are charging us more than 15000 rupees for a flight if we book it for tomorrow or the day after. This is sheer loot,” said Ghulam Jeelani, a stranded passenger.
Another stranded passenger, Riyaz Ahmed, said: “If we don’t opt for refund, they are asking us to wait for more than eight days before they could book us on another flight. We are travelling with kids and there is no hope for the Srinagar-Jammu highway to open anytime soon. How we can spend thousands of rupees on hotel accommodations when we don’t have any money left with us?”
“There are some passengers who have chosen air travel only due to the highway closure. They can’t spend thousands on hotel accommodations for coming days,” he said.
The aggrieved passengers said it is the responsibility of the private carrier to provide them hotel accommodation if they want them to stay in Jammu for eight more days.
When contacted, an official from the Indigo Airlines—the accused carrier in this case—refused to comment.
“I’m not authorised to speak to the media,” he said.
The continued closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway has resulted in skyrocketing of air ticket prices in the Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Delhi sectors, and vice-versa.
Passengers are unlikely to see any respite as weatherman has predicted heavy spell of snow till Friday which could continue to disrupt surface and air traffic in the state.

Flights Cancelled
All flights were cancelled due to heavy snowfall and poor visibility at the Srinagar airport Wednesday, officials said.
There was snow on the runway since morning, he said.

Several Roads Closed
Meanwhile, a report said roads in most rural areas in southern and northern Kashmir were closed due to fresh snowfall. 
However, an official at the divisional administration Kashmir said snow was cleared from the roads.
“Snowfall is going on and clearance will be carried out again,” he said.

Fresh Avalanche Warning
The divisional administration Wednesday issued a fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche-prone districts of Kashmir, including Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.
People living in avalanche-prone areas of these districts have been asked not to venture out during the warning period to avoid loss of lives, an official said.

Tempeture
Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, recorded 1.0 degree Celsius while the mercury in Qazigund in southern Kashmir settled at a low of 1.4 degree Celsius.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in northern Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4.6 degree Celsius, while the night temperature in tourist resort of Pahalgam in southern Kashmir settled at minus 0.6 degree Celsius.
Kokernag town in southern Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius, while Kupwara town in northern Kashmir registered a low of minus 0.7 degree Celsius last night.
Leh town in Ladakh region was at minus 4.3 degree Celsius while the nearby Kargil town was coldest at minus 16.0 degree Celsius. Drass recorded low of minus 6.3 degree Celsius.
Jammu recorded a low of 11.6 degree Celsius, Katra 10.8 degree Celsius, Batote 1.4 degree Celsius, Bannihal 1.0 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah 2.0 degree Celsius.

Snow Disrupts life across Kahmir Valley
Meanwhile, fresh snowfall coupled with incessant rains disrupted life in Kangan area of Ganderbal district Wednesday. 
A witness said snow accumulated on roads in upper belts of Kangan, including Gund, Wangat, Naranag and Gagangeer, making their condition slippery.
Traffic movement came to standstill in various parts of northern Baramulla district following heavy snowfall on Wednesday.
Several upper reaches of the district received more than one feet of snow until Wednesday evening, affecting the movement of people and vehicles.
Hundreds of passengers were seen stranded on main Pattan road due to heavy snowfall in northern Baramulla district, a witness said, adding that nobody from the administration came forward to help clear the road.
Similar reports came from Chatoosa area of Rafiabad.
“Our area is witnessing heavy snowfall from Wednesday afternoon. More than one feet of snow has accumulated on roads” said Sajad Ahmad, a local resident.
In Kandi area, heavy snow threw life out of gear and left areas like Shirpora, Chandoosa, Khodpora, Gewgaran, Laridora disconnected with the district headquarters.
Late in the evening, a witness said thousands of people including men, women and children are stranded on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway at Pattan and Sangrama.
The stranded passengers said they are stuck at Pattan for the past more than three hours as local authorities are unable to clear the road which is clogged due to a massive traffic jam. 

Power Supply Affected In Rajouri, Poonch
Power supply was partially affected in some areas following rains and snowfall in areas of Rajouri and Poonch districts since Wednesday morning.
Groups of witnesses said low-lying areas in both the districts received fresh rains, which continued throughout Wednesday, hitting normal movement of traffic on several key roads.
All higher reaches of the twin districts received fresh snowfall, officials said.