Thousands of passengers remained stranded in Srinagar and Jammu while more than 600 trucks and other vehicles are halted on the highway, the only road linking the valley with the rest of the country, for the past four days. Though the snowfall has stopped since early this morning, the highway remained closed for vehicular traffic because of about seven feet of snowfall between Jawahar tunnel and Banihal, a traffic police official told to the sources.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway could not start the snow clearance operation because of continuous snowfall for the last four days.
With the improvement in the weather, more than 40 snow clearance machine and cutter, besides hundreds of workers have been pressed into service to clear the accumulated snow and make the highway traffic worthy as soon as possible.
Heavy rains in Penthal, the most trouble spot on the highway, also triggered landslides and shooting of stones,he said adding it will take some time to clear the mud and stones from the highway.
He said no vehicle was allowed to leave Jammu or Srinagar for the past four days. However, passenger vehicles stranded on the highway have been cleared, he claimed.
Official sources, however, said more than 600 vehicles, mostly trucks loaded with essential commodities and fruits, are stranded on either side of the tunnel on the highway.
They said the vehicles are in safe area where there is no threat of avalanche or landslides.
More than 3,000 people, including tourists who were heading for Kashmir, are stranded at Jammu and other places, they said, adding similarly about 3,000 people are stranded here.
The state peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a coalition partner in the government, alleged that stranded passengers were not being provided any relief by the authorities.
A senior PDP leader said authorities should made arrangments for the stranded passengers at Jammu, Srinagar and other places till the highway reopens.
''We will have to wait for some time before allowing traffic because of threat of avalanche in tunnel and Banihal areas and landslides at Penthal,'' sources said.