Srinagar: The opening of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has come as a ray of hope for flood-affected population in Kashmir Valley which is battling with shortage of essentials including life-saving drugs and baby food.
The 293 km arterial highway connecting the Valley with the rest of the country was thrown open on Tuesday, 12 days after landslides triggered by heavy rains forced its closure which led to a shortage of many essentials in the Valley.
"There is no ration in CAPD (Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department) stores. Shopkeepers do not have it. But we are hopeful now that the highway has been opened and supplies will reach," Abdul Majid Rather, a resident of Srinagar's downtown area said.
Rather said everything was washed away in the flood affected areas and whatever was there in the unaffected areas was given away in relief by the people.
"Not only in affected areas, there is a shortage in those areas which were not flooded. Our only hope was the Jammu-Srinagar highway. Thank God, it has been thrown open now,' he said.
People have beeen specially worried about shortage of medicines and baby food as there were apprehensions of an epidemic looming large in the valley.
"I went to many shops and departmental stores in the city in search of baby food, but I had to return dejected. Finally, thanks to Almighty, I managed to get some packets from a shop in Hyderpora," Riyaz Ahmad Sheikh a resident of Batamaloo area of Srinagar city said.
Sheikh is now hopeful of an abundant supply of baby food as the supplies have started to trickle in since yesterday.
"There is a shortage of medicines in the city. Most of the chemist shops were flooded and those which remained unaffected have exhausted their supplies," Umar Ganaie, another down town resident, said.
Kashmir has a large number of diabetic and hypertension patients who need regular medicine, but as the supplies were hit due to the closure of the highway, many patients were finding it difficult to get such medicines. With the opening of the highway, hopes of patients have risen.
Apart from ration, medicines and baby food, disinfectants are in demand as most colonies, which were submerged, have developed stench and doctors have advised people to use such products.
For the first few days after the floods, there was a huge shortage of fuel in the Valley and long queues were seen at the fuel stations.
"I had to wait for re-fuelling my car with petrol from 10 pm to 3 am. There was a huge crowd. But I am hopeful the situation would be better now and the supplies would be regular," Sheikh Younis of Ganderbal said.
With the supply line being restored now, increased relief and ration supplies are expected to reach the Valley and bring smiles to the people battling a disaster that struck on September 7.