Fresh landslide halts traffic for 15 hours on Srinagar-Jammu highway

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Jammu: A fresh landslide halted traffic for nearly 15 hours on the strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway even as over 3,000 Kashmir-bound vehicles, mostly carrying passengers, crossed the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to the valley on Monday, officials said.
The 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, is partially open but only stranded vehicles are being allowed to ply to reach their destination, the officials said.
“As many as 2,500 light motor vehicles and 600 trucks including 250 fuel tankers crossed the Jawahar Tunnel into the valley from this side till 4 pm,” Deputy Superintendent of Police, traffic (national highway), Pardeep Singh Sen said.
He said a major landslide hit the highway in Panthiyal area of Ramban Sunday evening, forcing closure of the road.
The agency concerned worked overnight and managed to clear the road of the hurdles after 15-hour long operation Monday morning, the officer said adding the vehicular movement was on when last reports were received.
Authorities allowed one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar on Saturday after nearly week-long closure but multiple landslides coupled with continuous shooting of stones due to fresh snowfall and incessant rains left thousands of commuters stranded between Ramban to Udhampur.
The traffic was allowed to move towards Srinagar after restoration of the road on Sunday but only a few hundred vehicles managed to cross the problematic 12-km zone from Panthiyal to Ramsu before it was blocked by multiple landslides again.
The authorities did not allow traffic from either Srinagar or Jammu and said the preference would be given to clear the stranded vehicles first, the officials said.
Meanwhile, youth leader and former president of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) Feroz Khan blamed the unplanned work on the four-lane highway project for the frequent closure of the highway resulting in untold sufferings to the commuters travelling between the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Khan claimed that the construction companies have sublet the work to contractors who have neither experience nor the qualified workforce for the job, while the administration is unmoved.
“Villages are sinking, houses have developed cracks and deforestation has taken place at a large scale,” he said, adding “We want development but not at the cost of people’s lives.”