Kashmir: Life paralysed due to heavy snowfall

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Srinagar, Feb 6: Authorities have sounded a fresh alert of avalanches in the Kashmir valley where life remained paralysed for the second consecutive day today due to heavy snowfall.

Meanwhile, the people, who alleged that only main streets, besides few roads leading to VIPs were cleared, contested the claim made by authorities about the snow clearance operation in the city.

''We have issued a warning of more snowfall till February 8,'' Assistant Director Meteorological T K Jyotshi told UNI.

He said snowfall after a long dry spell was good for fruit, vegetables and other crops and would help overcome the water shortage during summer.

Mr Jyotshi said it was perhaps for the first time in the past five years that the valley had recorded heavy snowfall during the month of February. However, the valley experienced heavy snowfall earlier in the months of January and March also, he added.

He said in some areas the snowfall was more than ten feet, while in plains it was relatively low. ''I am satisfied with the snowfall,''he said.

However, the minimum temperature has improved from minus six last week to plus 0.4 degrees this morning. The night temperature usually goes up when the sky remains overcast.

The authorities in the valley have sounded an alert, particularly in the hilly and avalanche-prone areas.

People in frontier district of Kupwara, Baramulla, Gurez, Handwara, Shopian, Waltangoo, Kulgam, Drass, Kargil, Banihal, Jawahar tunnel, Brad, Kokernag, Achgam and Kangan were directed to restrict their movement in the hilly areas because of the avalanche threat.

A warning has also been issued in Uri, where more than a dozen porters and soldiers were buried alive under the avalanche on January 8. The bodies have yet to be recovered because of more than 15 feet of snow accumulated in the area.

Srinagar, the summer capital, and its adjoining areas were witnessing continuous snowfall form the past 24 hours, disrupting normal life. Though the divisional authorities had claimed that snow clearance machines have been pressed into service on the city routes, a majority of roads remained snow-bound.

People alleged that snow on airport, civil secretariat, winter secretariat, high court roads, being used by VIPs, has been cleared whereas no snow clearance machine was pressed into service to clear snow on roads mainly used by the general public. Similar, reports of non-clearance of snow were also received from other areas in the city.

Less number of vehicles were plying on the city routes as a majority of vehicles remained off the road after drivers found it difficult to drive on snow-bound link roads and bylanes.

People, including woman, children and the elderly, were seen walking on snow-covered roads to reach their destinations because of non-availability of transport. However, few vehicles plying were over crowded.

People alleged that the situation even worsens during evening when almost no vehicle is available and three-wheelers charge more than double without any check from the authorities.

An official spokesman, however, claimed that snow from all districts routes has been removed and are through for traffic.

He said for this purpose, 19 machines were pressed into service in Srinagar and Budgam districts.

Similarly, 11 snow clearance machines, including two snow cutters, were pressed into service in Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts, while 12 machines were in Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts.

The meeting was informed that snow clearance operation is going on vigorously in the entire valley where respective district administration is monitoring the clearance operation from all link roads.

He said families living in six houses at Panchgam Nad in Kulgam district have been shifted to safer locations, while two houses have been damaged at Beigam in Kulgam due to the snowfall.


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