10,000 Truckers, Passengers Stranded On Banihal Highway
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the landslides
About 10000 passengers, including women, children and elderly persons, besides truckers are stranded for the third day on Friday at different places on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir, and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained closed for the past 24 days on Friday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition due to below freezing temperature.
The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the past three days on Friday due to fresh landslides and shooting stones at Digal, a traffic police official said.
However, he said, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for maintenance and widening of the highway, have pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the landslides.
He said once the landslide clearance operation is over, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations. “No fresh vehicle will be allowed from Srinagar and Jammu,” he added.
Meanwhile, about 10000 passengers, including women, children and elderly persons and truckers, are stranded, mostly between Qazigund to Jawahar tunnel. These vehicles had left Srinagar for Jammu on Wednesday but got stranded after landslides at Digdol, where a portion of the hill has collapsed.
Drivers and passengers, stranded on this side of the Jawahar tunnel, alleged that there is no sufficient arrangement for their stay or food in these areas. Hotels are flooded with passengers, they said, adding the prices of a cup of tea or rice and other eatables have suddenly increased without any checking by the local administration.
They further said that the majority women, children and elderly persons had to stay in their vehicles in sub zero temperature because of no arrangement by the administration. However, some passengers, mostly youngsters are covering the avalanche prone area on foot to board another vehicle on the other side, they said, adding that there were four dead bodies stranded on the highway on the other side of the Jawahar tunnel.
Traffic police official said the movement of vehicles was suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any accident. He appealed to people to cooperate and requested them to contact Traffic Control Units (TCUs) at Srinagar, Jammu and Ramban before starting journey. He said only stranded vehicles, particularly between Ramban and Ramsu, will be allowed to move on priority since there is a forecast for more rain and snow during the next 24 hours.
He said for the past 24 days, traffic on 434-km-long national highway, the only road linking UT Ladakh with Kashmir, remained suspended due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. The road has become very slippery due to below freezing temperatures, particularly at Zojila pass.
Meanwhile, due to slippery conditions after freezing of snow water, there is also no chance of resumption of traffic on the historic Mughal and Anantnag-Kishtwar roads during winter. Traffic on the Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region, was closed on December 11 due to heavy snowfall, particularly at Pir-ki-Gali, they said.