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Snowfall cuts off Kashmir from India

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SRINAGAR: Intense snowfall since overnight — one of the heaviest in the recent years in the plains of Kashmir, threw life out of gear, cutting off the Valley from the rest of the country through surface connectivity, even as the state machinery, learning from November 2018 snowfall, worked overtime to restore all essential services within hours.

Most places in Kashmir, including plains of the valley, received moderate to heavy snowfall overnight, the MeT Department said, even as the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the Mughal Road, the Srinagar-Leh thoroughfare and mountain passes leading to Gurez and Tangdhar remained closed, the rail services disrupted while air traffic was only restored partially in the afternoon after remaining snapped for 24 hours.

The snowfall, which began in the late afternoon on Friday, continued in most parts of the valley till Saturday morning, MeT said.

The people across the Valley woke up to the thick layer of snow, ranging from 2 inches to more than two feet.

Srinagar recorded 10 inches of snowfall even as the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded two feet of fresh snow. While Qazigund recorded 11 inches, Kokernag three inches, Pahalgam 16 inches and Kupwara 17 inches of snow, Fakir Gojri followed with 12 inches, Budgam 11 inches, Khansaheb 18 inches, Ganderbal Town 11 inches, Babanagri- Wangath 24 inches, Sumbal – Ganiwan 24 inches, Kulan – Rezan 18 inches, Anantnag Town 2 inches, Aru 12 inches, Dooru 6 inches, Verinag 7 inches, Kulgam to Qazigund 6 inches, Qazigund-Kund 11 inches, , Shopian 6 inches , Shopian-Sadew 12 inches, Shopian-Herpora 12 inches, Pulwama Town 4 inches, Pulwama-Shopian road 5 inches, Pulwama-Gallander- Khrew 8 inches , Baramulla 11 inches, Gulmarg 12-26 inches, Tangmarg 18 inches, Gulmarg-Tangmarg Road 8-14 inches, Bandipora Town 6 inches, Bandipora upper reaches 12 inches, Gurez 12 inches , Lolab 6 inches and Handwara 6 inches.

The higher reaches of the valley received heavy snowfall which has led to closure of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and other road links, a spokesman of the Traffic Control Room here said.

He said Mughal Road, Srinagar-Leh National Highway and Bandipora-Gurez road were also closed for traffic.

The snowfall also disrupted the air traffic to and from Srinagar international airport which was partially restored on Saturday after remaining affected for nearly 24 hours due to snowfall, officials said.

While all flights in the morning were cancelled due to poor visibility and snow accumulation on the runway, five flights operated late in the afternoon as the weather improved, an airport official said.

The runway was cleared and the visibility improved, resulting in resumption of flight operations after nearly 24 hours, he said.

“Only five flights could operate on Saturday. Three landed at the airport on Saturday, while two were parked at the aerodrome since Friday,” the official said.

All other flights were cancelled, he said.
The snowfall has also disrupted normal life and affected the movement of people and transport in Srinagar city and other districts of the valley.
However, road clearance operations have been undertaken by the respective district administrations across the valley since the morning.

Most areas of have valley have been without electricity since last night, the officials said.

Owing to the snowfall, the night temperature in the valley rose last night providing relief to the residents from the intense cold conditions.

The mercury in Srinagar city, which had recorded a low of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius on the previous night, settled at a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius Friday night.

Leh town recorded minus 8 degree and Kargil minus 15.6.

Jammu city had 8.6, Katra 6.4, Batote minus 1.3, Bannihal 0.3 and Bhaderwah minus 0.2 as the night’s lowest temperatures.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan today said that the essential services disrupted at some places due to the heavy snowfall across the Kashmir division were restored within hours as the administration worked round the clock.

The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir was speaking at meeting convened to review the restoration of electricity and water supply, snow clearance on roads, Health Services, supply of essentials commodities, like rice, atta, sugar, K. Oil and LPG and other arrangements put in place in the Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil districts at a high-level meeting.

All District Development Commissioners (DDCs) informed that all essential services were restored and there is no shortage of essential commodities in their respective districts.

The DDCs further informed that all the highways and roads of the districts have been cleared by the engineering wings. The roads to Pahalgam and Gulmarg tourist resorts are also open for traffic. Two rescue teams have been already deployed at Waltengo-Naar in case of an eventuality. Alone in Srinagar city, 25 snow clearance machines on the job, the officials informed.

All the health institutions are functioning normally with proper heating arrangements and patients are being attended by the doctors and paramedics besides hassle free ambulance services in their respective districts. District and departmental control rooms are working 24×7 and their contact numbers have been publicised in media for prompt redressal of public grievances. Regarding National Highway which is clear upto Qazigund and beyond that, adequate Men and Machinery were deployed to clear snow so that valley will be connected to the rest of the country as soon as possible.

The Divisional Commissioner directed BRO Engineers to speed up the pace of snow clearance work and press additional men and machinery on the job so that National Highway as well as far flung areas of the valley will be connected as an earliest.

For mitigation of public problems, all DDCs were directed to use SDRF amount liberally and also send hourly report of post snowfall scenario in their respective districts to the Divisional Commissioner.

The Divisional Commissioner directed all newly elected counsellors, Sarpanchs and Panchs to visit in their respective wards and villages and redress grievances of the public on priority basis.

To address inundation problem in low lying areas of the Srinagar city, Div Com directed SMC to deploy adequate number of de-watering pumps along with fire and emergency machines immediately besides Drainage department will clear chocked drains immediately so that water logging shall not take place during present frost conditions. They have also been directed to hire tractors for snow clearance in lanes and pathways.

SRTC were directed to start bus services on hospital and airport routes immediately so that patients and passengers do not face inconvenience besides RTO Kashmir ensure proper transportation on all routes across the valley immediately.

The Divisional Commissioner stressed upon all concerned departments to be prepared and keep their men and machinery in ready mode to tackle any situation arising due to inclement weather conditions and ensure prompt restoration. They have also been directed to depute one officer at Police Control room for prompt action against any eventuality.

The Divisional Commissioner issued directions to all all newly elected Counsellors, Sarpanchs and Panchs to visit in their respective wards and villages and redress grievances of the public on priority basis.
Chief Engineers of PDD, PHE, R&B, Director Health Services, SSP Traffic, Director FCS&CA, RTO Kashmir, Director Urban Local Bodies, Commissioner SMC, GM JKSRTC, Medical Superintendent of SKIMS and other concerned officers were present in this meeting.