Over 3,100 vehicles stranded on J&K highway

Jammu: With over 3,100 vehicles, mostly trucks and tankers, stranded on the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to snowfall and landslides, state authorities are trying to clear them before allowing fresh traffic on the arterial road.

"No fresh traffic would be allowed between Kashmir and Jammu areas today as authorities are clearing the large number of stranded vehicles between the two places," police said.

Over 3,100 vehicles, mostly trucks and tankers, are stranded at various places of the highway including Banihal, Ramban, Patnitop, Udhampur and Nagrota areas of Jammu district for last one week following closure of the highway due to snowfall and landslides.

"Our aim is to clear all the stranded passengers. Only then traffic would be resumed," they said.

"Over 400 vehicles have crossed to Jawahar tunnel towards the Kashmir Valley till this morning," Ramban Superintendent of Police Anil Magotra said.

"The movement of traffic on the highway is very slow in view of the slippery road,: he said.

After reopening of the highway yesterday, over 350 trucks and oil tankers carrying essential commodities crossed into Kashmir Valley late last night, he said.

Snowfall had stopped yesterday at Jawahir Tunnel, Banihal, Shatani Nallah, Ramso, Batote and Patnitop areas, and the work to clear the highway was speeded up, Magotra said.

The highway, the only surface link to Kashmir, was closed first on January 13 due to landslides but reopened for one way-traffic on January 14 for a brief period. It was again closed due to heavy snowfall, avalanches and landslides on January 15 and reopened for one-way traffic briefly on January 18. This January, it has remained closed for almost 11 days.

Long queues of vehicles, mostly trucks, can still be seen on the highway on the outskirts of Jammu city, with passengers urging the government to clear the road for traffic.

Chief Engineer, Beacon, Brigadier T S Rawat briefed the Minister for Revenue, Raman Bhalla, at Jawahir Tunnel about the steps taken to make the tunnel functional.

The traffic on inter-district highway of Jammu-Rajouri -Poonch has been restored, while Doda-Kishtwar has been closed in view of the snowfall at various places besides most of the inter-district roads in Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban.

The inter-state Bhaderwah-Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) road has also been closed following heavy snowfall at Sartangal Pass.