Snowfall, landslides block J-K highway

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Banihal/Jammu, Nov 16 (PTI) The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Monday following snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides from the hillocks at several places in Ramban district, officials said.

The alternate link between the valley and rest of the country, Mughal Road, also remained closed for the third day as high altitude areas experienced snowfall, while plains of Jammu and other parts were lashed by rains since Sunday afternoon, the officials said.

The snowfall started around Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to the Kashmir Valley, late Sunday evening and was continuing intermittently, forcing authorities to suspend the traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to slippery condition of the road, the officials said.

However, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which is maintaining the road stretch between Zig-Banihal, including the Jawahar Tunnel area, have pressed its men and machines to clear the road.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), which is responsible for road maintenance, has deployed its workforce to clear the road but the incessant rains hampered the clearance operations, the officials said, expecting the road to reopen for traffic later in the day.

The officials said the Mughal Road, connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir's Shopian district, remained closed for the third day in view of heavy snowfall in Peer Ki Gali and adjoining areas.

The snow clearance operation is likely to start later in the day given the prediction of improvement in weather from this afternoon, they said.

Reports of snowfall from high altitude areas were received from Ramban, Doda, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur districts, while the plains including Jammu city were lashed by rains since Sunday, ending over two-month-long dry spell in the region.

A Meteorological Department official said the highest 37.4 mm of rainfall was recorded in Banihal during the past 24 hours ending 8.30 am Monday, followed by 35 mm in Katra town, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine.

Jammu city recorded 26.6 mm of rainfall during the same period, while the highway town of Batote recorded 33.6 mm of rainfall.

After the snowfall, Banihal was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding that Katra recorded a minimum of 9.2 degrees Celsius and Jammu 12.6 degrees Celsius. PTI CORR TAS AB DPB

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