Kashmir remains cut off from rest of the country

Srinagar: Kashmir remained cut off from the rest of the country for the second day today due to heavy snowfall in many areas over the past four days as the mercury fell below freezing point at most places with Gulmarg recording the coldest temperature in the state.

The arterial Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for the second consecutive day as the road has been blocked by snowfall and landslides at some places on the other side of Pir Panjal mountain range, an official said here. He said efforts were on the restore the 294-km road, the only all-weather link between Kashmir and rest of the country, at the earliest.

“If the weather continues to hold, we might be able to make the road traffic worthy and clear the stranded vehicles later in the day,” the official said. The road was closed yesterday due to heavy snowfall across Kashmir and landslides at some places. The precipitation has stopped since last night.

The air traffic to and fro Srinagar International Airport also remained suspended for the second day as the runway has been blocked by snow. “The Airport Authority of India is making efforts to clear the snow from the runway and we are hopeful that the afternoon flights might be able to land and take off,” an official at Srinagar Airport said.

Normal life across the Valley remained paralysed as the authorities here failed to clear the snow even from main roads of the city and other inter-district routes. Very few vehicles could be seen on the roads as people preferred to stay indoors after yesterday’s harrowing experience with traffic jams caused by snowfall which had choked the city roads.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, while taking stock of the situation last evening, expressed displeasure with the pace of snow clearance operations and directed the administration to speed up the work. Meanwhile, Gulmarg ski resort in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the state last night as the mercury plunged to minus 8.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of two degrees from previous night’s minus 6.2 degrees Celsius.

Pahalgam in south Kashmir, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 4.3 degrees Celsius. Leh, in Ladakh region, has been witnessing warmer nights that usual as the minimum temperature settled at minus 4.1 degrees Celsius.

Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and other weather stations across the valley recorded minimum temperature close to freezing point. More snowfall and rain has been predicted in the valley over the next 24 hours.