Kashmir cut off for third day, snowfall stops



Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the third day Tuesday even as snowfall has stopped here after 60 hours.

The moderate to heavy snowfall that started Saturday snapped the terrestrial and aerial connections with the rest of the country -- the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the third day Tuesday and no flights were operated from or to the Srinagar International Airport for two days.

The local disaster management cell has issued an avalanche warning for the higher reaches of the valley, including Gurez, Machil, Keran, Tangdhar, Uri, Chowkibal and Karnah. People have been advised not to move out of their homes but remove accumulated snow from their rooftops to prevent any roof collapse.

One constable was killed and 38 policemen injured when a barrack inside the armed police commando training centre caved in under heavy snowfall in Lethpora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district Monday.

"The western disturbance that was active over the valley for the last three days has weakened now. Precipitation will now decrease although the night temperatures are likely to fall in the coming days," meteorological office director Sonam Lotus said here.

The minimum temperature was minus 1.2 degrees in Srinagar while it was minus 3.8 in Pahalgam, minus 8.7 in Gulmarg and minus 8.6 in Leh town of Ladakh region.

An acute shortage of cooking gas in Kashmir has forced the authorities to start its ration and the gas companies have been asked to supply cylinders filled with just five kg of gas to the consumers.

People are also complaining of unscrupulous traders charging heavily on other essentials like kerosene oil, food stuff, vegetables, pulses, mutton and poultry.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has requested the Indian Air Force (IAF) to fly in cooking gas cylinders into the valley besides some essential commodities.

An official of the Srinagar International Airport said weather permitting additional flights would be operated by various service providers to the valley Tuesday.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) maintaining the over 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu highway said it would start efforts to reopen the road.

"There is over five feet thick snow in Patnitop. A 400-metre-long avalanche struck the Shaitani Nallah area of Bannihal sector. Over a dozen landslides have occurred on the highway between Ramban and Bannihal," said Brigadier TPS Rawat, BRO chief engineer.

IANS