Kashmir highway closed for third day, hundreds stranded

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Srinagar, Jan 10 (UNI) The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the third consecutive day today due to heavy snowfall and landslides on 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

After allowing few hundred vehicles, particuarly carrying passengers stranded at different places on either side of the Jawahar tunnel since January 7 evening, to proceed towards their respective destinations, the highway was again closed following three to four feet of snowfall, a senior traffic police official told UNI from Ramban.

Few thousand passengers, including good number of tourists, are stranded at Srinagar and Jammu because of the closure of the highway.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway, has pressed into service men and machine to make it safe for journey.

He said about one to four feet of snowfall had accumulated between Qazigund and Banihal and Patnitop, due to which the road had become slippery.

He said heavy rains in Ramban and Ramsu area triggered fresh landslides near Penthal, the most trouble spot on the highway, the only road linking the valley with rest of the country.

The official claimed that no passenger vehicle was stranded on the highway. However, there are more than 300 trucks, carrying essential commodities and fruits stranded on either side of the Banihal.

He said no vehicle was allowed from Jammu or Srinagar this morning. ''We will clear all the stranded vehicles before allowing fresh traffic from Jammu and Srinagar,'' he added.

He said shooting of stones at Penthal was going on and it would be very risky to allow traffic. The highway would be declared safe for travel once the shooting of stones stopped and BRO cleared the landslides and snow from the road.

This is the second time the highway was closed for traffic during this winter due to snowfall and landslides.

Officials here said there is enough stock of essential commodities, including rice, flour, kerosene oil, gas and sugar for one to two months.

UNI BAS GT DS1300

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