Srinagar, Jan 10: The 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed for the fifth consequent day today following heavy snowfall. The highway, which connects the Valley to the rest of the country, is totally blocked for vehicular traffic on account of incessant snowfall.
The Kashmir Valley depends heavily on imports of items of daily use and the blocking of the highway has caused scarcity in local markets, sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities. There were serpentine queues of trucks along the routes and, it seems, they will remain stranded for at least a week. Stranded drivers and passengers complained of lack of drinking water, food and shelter.
"We are facing lot of trouble due to this blockage. We get stuck due to snow during this time everyday near the Ramban area. Generally, during this year, this problem occurs but still there are no arrangements for people like us. We have to cook food inside our vehicles and we cannot even sleep properly during night in such a situation," said Nazir Ahmad, a truck driver.
The upper reaches in Kashmir experienced heavy snowfall, while Srinagar and other plain areas in the Kashmir valley had rains bringing life to a standstill. Traffic officials have stopped the vehicles at Qazigund, following the fresh landslides and shooting stones due to continuous rains and snow all along the Highway.
Rasheed Ahmad, a traffic official, said, “It's raining along with snowfall. On the other side of the tunnel there's snow till two feet. People are trying to clear the snow there. Once that is cleared, we'll allow the traffic. We have stopped the passenger vehicles due to heavy snowfall. People are struck in Banihal area as well. And there's no question of passing from here as it'll take time to clear the snow."
Traffic on the highway will be resumed after the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) clears the snow and landslides. Meanwhile, at least 15 people, including seven army personnel, were feared to be buried under a snow avalanche near the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to officials, a search operation has been launched to find the "missing" porters and jawans. Earlier, two jawans were killed when they were buried under a snow avalanche in Macchil sector of Kupwara district. Kashmir has received snowfall equivalent to 17.3 mm of rainfall and the highways are covered in several feet of snow.