Jammu-Srinagar highway closed for repair work
STATE TIMES NEWSSrinagar: Flight operations at Srinagar airport remained suspended for the second consecutive day as all flights were cancelled on Sunday due to dense fog causing poor visibility in the Kashmir valley, officials said. All flights at Srinagar airport were cancelled on Sunday and no flight operations took place, an Airport Authority of India (AAI) official said. The official said 28 flights, including those for the armed forces, were scheduled at the airport for Sunday. The airlines took the decision to cancel all flights because of very poor visibility caused by heavy fog in the valley, the official said. Flight operations have been severely affected at the airport for the past three days. On Friday, several flights were cancelled, while no flight operations took place on Saturday. A thick layer of fog engulfed most parts of the valley on Sunday affecting visibility and causing problems to people especially to motorists. Meanwhile, Srinagar recorded the coldest night of the season as severe cold conditions continued unabated in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Sunday, an official of the Meteorological Department said. At a low of minus 26 degrees Celsius, Drass in Kargil district of Ladakh was the coldest recorded place, while the minimum temperature in Jammu fell two degrees below the season’s average to settle at 8 degrees Celsius, the official said. The night temperature, however, is likely to improve in the coming days under the influence of Western Disturbance which is likely to hit the region on Wednesday, bringing another spell of snow and rains. The residents of Srinagar woke up to a dense fog and chilly conditions on Sunday with further drop in the night temperature, recording a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius — 3.4 notches below the normal for this part of the season. The fall in the mercury resulted in freezing of fringes of the famous Dal Lake as well as drinking water taps in different residential areas of the city.
This year the wintery conditions engulfed the region early following moderate to heavy snowfall — first of the season — on November 7.
Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, recorded a minimum of minus 26 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s 25.4 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Leh town, also in Ladakh, was reeling at a minimum of 16 degrees Celsius, the official said.
Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the valley with a low of minus 6.3 degrees Celsius followed by the famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir at minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, the official said.
Katra, which serves as the base camp for pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district of Jammu region, recorded a low of 8.2 degrees Celsius, the official said adding Bhadarwah township of Doda district was, however, the coldest recorded place in the region with a minimum of 1.4 degrees Celsius.
Director of the Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus said the night temperature is expected to improve from Monday night ahead of a fresh spell of widespread moderate snow or rain in plains of Jammu and Kashmir and Kargil district of Ladakh from December 11 to 13 with main activity on December 12.
Meanwhile, the 270-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed for traffic to facilitate “necessary repair work”, while one-way traffic resumed on 434-km Srinagar-Leh highway and Mughal Road after remaining closed for several weeks due to heavy snowfall, officials said.
Inspector General of Police, Traffic, Alok Kumar said vehicular movement on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was suspended for the day to allow road maintenance agencies to carry out “necessary repair work”.
While convoys of security personnel were allowed to ply on the highway from both sides– Srinagar and Jammu, civilian traffic was restricted.
The step was taken to ensure that the highway which was damaged by recent landslides in Ramban sector can be repaired and to facilitate the passage of security convoys.
Meanwhile, the 434-km Srinagar-Leh national highway was reopened for one-way traffic on Sunday morning after remaining closed since November 27 following heavy snowfall in Zojilla pass and adjoining areas, the officials said.
They said the traffic was allowed to move from Kargil towards Srinagar after the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which maintains the highway, gave the green signal after clearing snow from the road.
Similarly, the officials said that the Mughal road which connects the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region to south Kashmir’s Shopian district was also cleared of accumulated snow and thrown open for one-way traffic after remaining closed for more than a month.
Traffic was allowed from Shopian side but the drivers were cautioned to drive carefully due to slippery conditions at some places, the officials said.
The Mughal road was closed for traffic on November 6 after most parts of Kashmir valley including Pir Ki Gali experienced first major snowfall.
After several weeks of hectic efforts, the road was cleared on November 26 but a fresh spell of snowfall delayed its reopening, the officials said.
Both Srinagar-Leh national highway and the Mughal road usually remain closed for traffic during winter months due to heavy snowfall.
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