Banihal: The Jammu-Srinagar national highway was reopened for traffic after weather improved today, with over 200 vehicles including 55 carrying passengers leaving this highway town for Kashmir, officials said.
The nearly 300-km arterial road, the only all weather link between the valley with the rest of the country, was closed for vehicular traffic yesterday after various parts of the highway including Jawahar Tunnel – the gateway to Kashmir – experienced about two feet of snowfall.
Snowfall, coupled with landslides and shooting of stones triggered by incessant rains at several places including Panthyal, Ramsoo and Anokhifal, forced the closure of the highway, leaving over 800 trucks and passenger vehicles stranded.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (National Highway) Vishal Manhas said over 200 vehicles including 55 passenger vehicles stranded at Banihal were allowed towards Kashmir after the Qazigund-Banihal stretch was cleared of snow this afternoon.
However, a landslide at Nashri this morning slowed down the clearance operation but the agencies concerned cleared the road after hectic efforts.
“No vehicle was allowed from either Srinagar or Jammu for the second day today,” he said, adding a decision to reopen the road for traffic tomorrow will be taken once the stranded vehicles are cleared.
Snowfall, ranging between five inches to two feet, was reported in the high altitude areas of Jammu region, while the winter capital and other plains were lashed by incessant rain yesterday and through the night resulting in drop in the mercury.
Banihal and Ramban along the highway and Bhaderwah in Doda district recorded sub-zero temperature after fresh snowfall, while Katra which houses the famous Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine recorded a low of 5 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature dropped to minus 1.1 degrees Celsius in Banihal, and minus 1.6 in Ramban and Bhaderwah district.
However, Jammu city recorded a low of 8.7 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s 10.5 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the MeT office said.