Services cripple under moderate snowfall in Valley
Surface traffic, air links snapped; Schools shut, KU exams postponed
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Dec 30: Season’s first snowfall in the Valley plains is not threatening to be intense but it has, nevertheless, crippled essential services as Kashmir remained cut off from rest of the country and the world today. Surface as well as air communication links to the Valley have been snapped and the continuing snowfall, that began last evening, has badly affected supply of electricity and drinking water in all 10 districts in
Much awaited snowfall began after two hours of moderate rain in entire
Kashmir valley last evening. It continued intermittently for 30 hours till midnight today. Reports suggested moderate to heavy snowfall in the high altitude areas. Officials told Early Times late tonight that accumulation of 15 inches had been recorded in Shopian hilly terrain while as it was 16 inches at Jawahar Tunnel, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, 20 inches at Gulmarg and 14 inches at Sonmarg.
The plains, however, enjoyed a moderate to low snowfall. Authoritative sources maintained that ranging between 2 inches to 8 inches, average accumulation till late tonight was 4 inches in the plains. Officials said that 4 inch snow accumulation had been recorded in
, Budgam and Pulwama belt. They said it was relatively lower at 3 inches in Baramulla and Tral. Reports from most of the areas late tonight said that the snowfall had subsided but officials at Meteorology Department and Disaster Management cell insisted that combination of rain and snow was likely to continue with uneven breaks for the next 24 hours. Srinagar
Due to the snowfall, all air and surface transport services from
Delhi and Jammu to have been suspended. While as Srinagar-Kargil-Leh, Shopian-Rajouri ( Srinagar Mughal Road), Daksum-Kishtwar, Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Machhil and Bandipore-Gurez roads had been closed for vehicular traffic last evening itself, Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed due to a major disruption in Banihal-Tunnel-Qazigund area today.
Officials said that 75 vehicles got stranded in the 3 Km long tunnel, 50 more outside besides 25 at
Lower Munda (Qazigund). They said that passengers of all the buses and medium vehicles had been evacuated to safer places and efforts were underway to push all the stranded vehicles towards their Srinagar and destinations. They said that more than snowfall, it were the intense slippery road conditions that had forced the authorities to stop incoming and outgoing traffic at Banihal and Qazigund respectively. Jammu
Passengers and drivers, however, spoke to this newspaper over telephone and alleged that nobody was coming to their rescue on either side of the tunnel in Qazigund-Banihal area. They lamented that they had been left to fend for themselves.
With two Ministers, namely Mian Altaf Ahmed and Nasir Aslam Wani, touring parts of their snow-bound constituencies in Kangan and Amirakadal respectively, Divisional Commissioner Asgar Hassan Samoon took a meeting with the divisional heads of different government departments and field organizations in the afternoon. On the basis of inputs delivered in the review meeting, Divisional Commissioner claimed that there was no major problem anywhere in the Valley. He maintained that adequate number of JCB machines and snow-cutters had fanned out on all surface communication arteries across the Valley for snow clearance. He claimed that 95% of the supplies and services had been made functional in the capital city till this evening.
Contrary to counterclaims from residents in
and other districts, SE Muzaffar Matoo claimed that power supply had been restored in 95% of the areas today itself. Consumers dismissed the official claim as “baseless” and complained that over 70% of the areas were in total darkness at any given point of time during the day. Srinagar
An official spokesman claimed that the power supply had increased from a total of 268 MWs at 1300 hours to a satisfactory 364 MWs at 1500 hours. He claimed that at 1500 hours today, 100 MWs of HT power was flowing to
Srinagar from through Kishenpur-Pampore transmission line and 195 MWs through Kishenpur-Wagora line. Availability was officially 46 MW from the prestigious 480 MW Uri hydroelectric project, 10 MW from 105 MW capacity LJHP besides 13 MW from 105 MW Upper Sindh Hydel Project. Jammu
However, consumers in all parts of the Capital city insisted that there was extremely poor and erratic power supply in
. Supply was badly affected in the metered areas of Jawahar Nagar, Bemina and Civil Lines. Voltage was also reported in the poor range of 50 to 100 v. Drainage and drinking water supply services were consequently affected in almost all parts of the capital city. Srinagar
Situation was reportedly worse in all nine of the rural districts in the Valley. Residents complained that electricity supply was continuously shut in over 70 percent of the rural areas. It was reported erratic at the district headquarters. Reports said that medical services were also affected though SKIMS and all other hospitals in
were still functional. Attendance was thin in government services and large number of shops and business establishments remained closed as skeletal passenger services operated in Srinagar and other major towns. Srinagar
Telecommunication services, particularly those of BSNL, remained badly hit. Informed sources said that private custodians had been regularly collecting fuel for diesel generating sets at their towers but thousands of sites remained completely dead as the fuel was being openly disposed off to tipper drivers. Consumers asserted that for most of the time since yesterday their mobile phones were indicating “Searching” and “No Signal”. They said that even if a call matured, it would snip in just 30 to 40 seconds.
With the help of scores of snow cutting machines and specially hired JCBs and tractors, authorities succeeded in clearing a number of major arteries, particularly Qazigund-Uri, Srinagar-Gulmarg, Srinagar-Kupwara, Srinagar-Bandipore and Srinagar-Tral roads. Roads in interior localities, particularly in upper Budgam, Chrar Sharief and Shopian-Kulgam belt were still covered under snow and not open for vehicular traffic.
Authorities have immediately announced indefinite closure of all high and higher secondary schools that had been kept functional for studies this year.
also announced postponement of all of its examination scheduled for Dec 31, Jan 1 and Jan 2. University of Kashmir
Till late tonight, there were no reports of any loss of life. An official spokesman said that in all five residential houses had suffered damage---two at Sallar and one each at Pahalgam, Guree (Bijbehara) and Guchan Sheikhpora (Dooru).