Leh highway reopens; Keran, Karnah and Machil still cut off

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Srinagar, Nov 15 (UNI) Traffic on the 434-km-long Srinagar-Drass-Leh national highway was today resumed after remaining suspended for a day yesterday due to heavy snowfall.

However, Keran, Karnah, Machil, Razdan and Sadhna top remained closed due to the heavy snowfall. Efforts are being made to put them through.

Chief Engineer of BEACON project A K Bhutani told UNI that the Srinagar-Leh highway was put through this morning after the accumulated snow was cleared.

''We pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the snow and allow normal traffic from the both sides,'' he said.

Mr Bhutani said there was about three feet of accumulated snow at Zojila and two feet at Sonmarg and other areas on this side of the pass.

He said the road, life line to Ladakh region, which remains cut off in winter due to the snowfall, would remain open till the weather permits.

''We had decided to close the highway from November 1 to avoid any tragedy on the highway,'' he said, adding later traffic movement was allowed keeping in view the dry weather.

Mr Bhutani said, ''the road will be closed the moment we think that journey would be risky.'' He said there was a proposal to make a tunnel at Zojila to make the highway an all-weather road. The proposal was already approved and the feasibility for the tunnel would be started in summer.

Interestingly, there was no snowfall on other side of the Zojila, including Drass, the second coldest place in the world after Siberia.

Though the authorities in the Kashmir valley had pressed into service dozens of snow clearance machines to clear the snow on the main roads, the inner roads, bylanes are still under snow, making the pedestrian movement almost impossible.

About a dozen people were injured after they slipped on the snow in different parts of the city.

A report from Baramulla said a number of far flung and remote areas in north Kashmir remained cut off from the district and tehsil headquarters due to the snowfall.

The Razdan and Sadhna top, Machil, Keran, Karnah and Gurez also recorded two to five feet of snowfall affecting traffic movement.

Gurez Assembly segment is going to polls in the first phase on November 17 along with nine other constituencies in the state.

UNI BAS SW KP1428

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