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Jammu-Srinagar National Highway opens for stranded vehicles

JAMMU, JAN 24

The strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway was cleared for stranded vehicles on Monday as road clearance agencies pulled out a rice-loaded truck that was stuck in mud near Panthiyal in Ramban district for nearly 30 hours, officials said.

Senior Superintendent of Police, traffic, Shabir Ahmad Malik said 130 heavy motor vehicles and 10 oil tankers besides dozens of light motor vehicles, which were stranded on the highway, were allowed to move towards their destination after completion of the road clearance operation at Panthiyal, where the carriageway is single.

However, he said no fresh vehicle was either allowed from Jammu or Srinagar for the second day on Monday.

The traffic on the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was suspended on Sunday following multiple landslides and shooting of stones from hillocks between Chanderkote and Ramsu and snowfall in Banihal sector.

While the road clearance agencies pressed its men and machines and cleared the highway of the obstacles, a truck loaded with rice got deeply embedded in the mud at Panthiyal and could not be moved.

The operation was called off late Sunday evening and was resumed this morning with fire and emergency service joining the effort which proved fruitful and the truck was pulled out around 1 pm, the officials said, adding the normal traffic is likely to resume Tuesday.

Officals said the helicopter service to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district was briefly resumed this morning after remaining suspended for the past two days.

Pilgrimage through the new track to the shrine was also affected due to landslides triggered by overnight rains.

The officials said the yatra to the shrine was continuing smoothly when last reports were received.

A spokesperson of the Meteorological department said Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine, recorded the highest 24.7 mm of rainfall during the past 24 hours till 8.30 am.

Bhaderwah town of Doda district in Jammu region recorded 7.4 cm snowfall during the same period, while Jammu city recorded a rainfall of 1.6 mm, the spokesperson said.

He said the minimum temperature recorded in Jammu was 7 degrees Celsius, Katra 6 degrees Celsius, Bhaderwah 0.2 degrees Celsius and Banihal zero degrees Celsius.

However, The minimum temperature in most parts of Kashmir dropped but settled several degrees above normal for this time of the season, except in Gulmarg, officials said on Monday.

Fresh snowfall was recorded in several areas of the valley especially in south Kashmir, the officials said.

They said the famous tourist resort of Pahalgam received about five inches of snowfall, while Kokernag about two inches.

The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg recorded five inches of snowfall, they said.

There are reports of snowfall in some other areas in the upper reaches of the valley, including in Sonamarg, as well, they said.

The officials said the administration has pressed men and machinery into the job to clear the snow.

The minimum temperature at most places in the valley went down on Sunday night.

The minimum also was several degrees above normal for this time of the season at most places, the officials said.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of 2.8 degrees Celsius up from 0.4 degrees Celsius the previous night, they said.

Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 9.5 degrees Celsius down from minus 6 degrees Celsius the previous night.

Pahalgam, which also serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius up from the previous night’s minus 1.2 degrees Celsius, they said.

The officials said Qazigund recorded a minimum of 0.2 degree Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius.

The minimum in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius.

The MET Office has forecast light rain or snow at isolated places over two days.

Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ which began on December 21 last year.

‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ is a period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.

The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall.

The ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ will end on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

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