STATE TIMES NEWSSrinagar: Heavy snowfall across Kashmir on Thursday cut off the valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said, adding four persons, including two locals working as Army porters, died in separate incidents.
An official of the traffic department told PTI that roads which connect the summer capital with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar have also been closed due to adverse weather conditions. Over 2000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.
CS reviews restoration of power, road clearance JAMMU: Following heavy and continuous snowfall in Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu Division, Chief Secretary (CS), B.V.R Subrahmanyam on Thursday held an extensive video conference with the divisional and district administration of Kashmir and Jammu Divisions and impressed upon them to work 24×7 to ensure that power supply is restored and roads are cleared of snow by Friday evening. At the outset, Chief Secretary observed that Lieutenant Governor in his first informal interaction with the Administrative Secretaries at Civil Secretariat Srinagar emphasised on complete winter preparedness so that in the event of harsh winter, all basic necessities in particular power, water, food and petroleum products are made available to people without any interruption. He had also stressed on gearing up the official machinery to keep in readiness the restoration/contingency plans in this regard.Administrative Secretaries of PDD and DMRR&R and Additional DG SDRF and Home Guard, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Deputy Commissioner (DC), Jammu, DC Reasi and other officers attended the meeting. Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and DCs of Kashmir Division participated through video conference.The heavy and continuous snowfall has resulted in trees or tree branches felling on transmission lines because of which power infrastructure in both south and north Kashmir has been damaged. As a result, power supply in entire Kashmir Division has been badly affected. Power supply has also been affected in various districts of Jammu Division.Chief Secretary directed divisional and district administration Kashmir to ensure that the action plan for restoration of power supply is implemented swiftly and damaged power lines restored by Friday evening i.e 8th of November, 2019. “Along with undertaking the restoration of the damaged transmission lines, simultaneously, also activate the Emergency Restoration System”, Chief Secretary stressed on Chief Engineers of PDD and added that restoration of power supply is critical for functioning of other services and resumption of routine activities.Chief Secretary directed Commissioner/ Secretary, PDD to ensure that the buffer stock of transformers earmarked for distribution reach all the districts by next Monday. Commissioner/ Secretary, PDD was also asked to look into the requirement of transformers for the receiving stations in District Anantnag and District Bandipora. He was also asked to look into issues relating to power in Kishtwar and Poonch Districts of Jammu Division. The PDD was further directed to prune the trees coming in the alignment of transmission lines immediately after the weather improves.Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir informed that 360 transformers are already available as buffer stock in the divisional stores and these will be despatched to the districts, if needed.Chief Secretary directed Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to keep him updated regarding the restoration of power supply thrice a day.Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir said that 156 snow clearing Machines of the Mechanical Engineering Wing and 400 of the PW(R&B) have been pressed into service for clearing priority 1 and priority 2 roads across Kashmir Valley. He said men and machinery of the Municipalities and Town Area Committees have been deployed to clear lanes and by lanes in Srinagar City and other Towns. Teams from SDRF and Home Guards have been kept at standby to assist the Civil Administration in case of any emergency. Further, the Divisional Administration has tied up with Army and CRPF for rendering assistance, as may be required, for evacuation of the stranded person(s).Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir said that due to disruption in power supply, Gensets have been put to use in Hospitals for lighting and heating purposes. He said the date for commencement of the Central Heating System in Hospitals has been advanced in view of the inclement weather. He said all major Water Supply Schemes are functioning and gensets are being used, wherever, required for supplying water to consumers. Chief Secretary directed Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to ensure supply of potable water to people including through water tanks, where ever, needed.Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir informed that 80 Pump Stations and 115 Mobile Pump Stations besides fire tenders of the Fire & Emergency Services Department are available for de-watering in Srinagar City.Chief Secretary received brief from the DCs regarding damage to orchards, standing crops, apple produce, transformers, transmission lines, road clearance and about the stock and supply position. He asked DCs to constitute teams to assess the damage caused to the orchards and other crops after weather improves and submit their reports through their respective Divisional Commissioners.Chief Secretary asked the Health Department to ensure that hospitals have adequate heating arrangements, availability of medicine/facilities; and alternate power source (gensets/fuel) and funds required on this count should be immediately projected to the Government to obviate any difficulty.Chief Secretary asked DCs to project requirement of additional snow ploughs, snow cutters and requirement of funds to clear the past liabilities on account of snow clearance through Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. Preparedness with regard to snow/ landslide clearance, traffic management, rescue plan and facilities for stranded passengers/truckers along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and other important roads was also discussed in the meeting. Divisional Commissioner, Jammu apprised about the position of National Highway in the wake of incessant rainfall and the position of major roads across other districts. IGP Kashmir was directed to take necessary steps for regulation of traffic on the National Highway in consultation with the traffic police authorities.Chief Secretary asked the School Education department to ensure that adequate heating and lighting facilities are available in the examination centres. Chief Secretary also took stock of availability and stocking of ration, Gas, Petroleum, K oil and other essential food items in Kashmir division including snow bound remote areas. He expressed satisfaction that all Districts have adequate stocks for 4 months available in their stores. He directed Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Department (FCS&CA) to ensure that there is no shortage of ration, k-oil, cooking gas and petroleum products. Chief Secretary asked Secretary, FCS&CA to immediately look into the issue of winter stocking in district Kathua.He asked Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to ensure that joint control rooms remain functional throughout the winter months with general public kept informed through weather advisories/alerts and about the potential avalanche prone areas for their safety. He also instructed the divisional administration to share with the district administration, the names and contact details of the nodal officers designated for coordinating various rescue / air operations.Chief Secretary asked Secretary, DMRR&R to immediately liaise with Principal Secretary, Civil Aviation on the commencement of the air services to the snow bound areas. He also directed for setting up of a Help Desk at the Srinagar Airport for convenience of the stranded passengers.Chief Secretary also directed the DCs to sanction ex-gratia as per SDRF norms to the NoKs of the persons who lost their lives in the snowfall. He also advised the DCs to undertake restoration works immediately, wherever, required as per SDRF norms.He asked the DCs to lead from the front, be visible on ground to infuse motivation among subordinate officers/employees and further seek cooperation of public in restoration of essential services.
An official of the Airport Authority of India said all incoming and outgoing flights at Srinagar Airport have been cancelled. “A call on afternoon flights will be taken only after reassessing the weather situation,” the official said.
The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the valley woke up to an unseasonal snowfall, setting in early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the MET department said.
The snowfall has disrupted life in Kashmir as power was snapped in the early hours.
A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snowfall.
While most of the vehicles remained off roads, few cars and cabs could be seen on roads but drivers were facing difficulty in manouvering vehicles in view of accumulation of snow.
Officials said four persons, including two locals working as Army porters, died in separate incidents following heavy snowfall in the Valley.
The two porters identified as Manzoor Ahmed and Ishaq Khan died after coming under an avalanche near a forward post in Kupwara district.
In another incident, an employee of the Power Development Department (PDD) died while trying to restore power supply, which has been disrupted by heavy snowfall in Kashmir, officials said.
Manzoor Ahmad, an inspector in the PDD, fell off a pole and died on the spot, the officials said.
They said the Srinagar district administration has sanctioned an immediate ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh in favour of the next of the kin of the deceased PDD employee.
A pedestrian also died after he was hit by a branch of a Chinar tree which broke off under the weight of snow in Habak area of the city, the officials said.
They said a cab and an autorickshaw were also damaged in the incident.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration has taken up restoration works on a war footing.
“We have 45 machines on snow clearance job while dewatering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no waterlogging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining stations will also be restored in the next few hours,” he said.
Srinagar city received around 11 cm of snow till 11.30 am while the valley’s gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12 cm of snowfall.
Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62 cm so far, the official said.
Higher reaches of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara received first snowfall on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rains.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night’s 5.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of six degrees.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in the newly formed union territory, recording a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius while other weather stations also recorded a minimum temperature hovering around the freezing point, the MET department official said.
Officials in Jammu said that upper reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua districts also received snowfall.
In the plains of Jammu, heavy rains continued triggering cold wave conditions.
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