Frequent landslides at vulnerable spots on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway have forced the Centre to send a high-level team from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which visited the affected areas of Ramban today.
As uncertainty looms over the 270-km stretch following regular blockades, airfares between the two state capitals have spiralled, with tickets selling as high as Rs 14,000 for a one-way trip.
Sources say the blockade of the highway on a regular basis is creating hurdles in the smooth movement of security forces in the Valley. With the annual Amarnath Yatra slated to begin in July, the authorities are wary about disruption of traffic during the period.
The team, headed by Additional Secretary (Home) Gyanesh Kumar and accompanied by senior officers of J&K Police, CRPF and top brass of the National Highways Authority of India, visited the vulnerable spots to assess the situation.
“They directed the local authorities to ensure smooth vehicular movement during the yatra,” sources said. Keeping in view repeated landslides, the Centre has started preparations to avoid disruption of vehicular movement during the yatra.
Over the past month, landslides have been reported at Degdole, Monkey Morh, Battery Chashma, Anokhi Fall and Panthayal areas of Ramban district, as also Samroli in Udhampur district.
The seven-eight hour journey to Srinagar from Jammu is now taking up to 14 hours.
Due to traffic jams and bad condition of the road, taxi operators are refusing to go to the Valley. Those who do charge Rs 8,000 against the usual Rs 6,000. “It takes 14 hours to reach Srinagar, so people are preferring to travel by air,” said Sukhbir Singh, a taxi operator.
Airlines too have jacked up fares on the Jammu-Srinagar section. A ticket that cost around Rs 2,000-3,000 is selling at Rs 14,000 now.
‘Will only worsen during rain’ -“The authorities are worried as landslides are happening during summer. With the onset of rain during the yatra period, the situation will worsen.” Top govt official