Jammu-Srinagar NH closed after road patch caves in; repair work to take 5 days


JAMMU, Jan 11: The 270-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed for traffic after a portion of the road caved in near Ramban town, officials said on Monday, adding the repair work would take at least five days to restore the arterial route.
A portion of the road near Kela Morh, about four km ahead of the Ramban district headquarters, sank after a concrete retaining wall of the bridge collapsed, leading to the sinking of the road on Sunday evening, the officials said.
"The construction company concerned has started the restoration work on the damaged portion of the road but it will take at least five days to complete the work," Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic), National Highway, Jatinder Singh Jowhar told PTI.
He said a 16-metre retaining wall of a bridge collapsed, which led to the sinking of a 15-metre road, rendering the highway unsafe.
The officers of the Ramban district administration along with officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) rushed to the spot, which is located adjacent to an under-construction tunnel, to devise a strategy for an early restoration of the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country.
The SSP said the restoration work is going on in full swing and all out efforts are being made to ensure the traffic operation on the highway is resumed early.
The highway was opened for traffic only on Sunday after remaining closed for seven days following heavy snowfall and multiple landslides triggered by incessant rains.
Most of the Kashmir-bound vehicles had reached their destination when the road caved in near Ramban, leaving only a few hundred vehicles stranded, the officials said, adding most of them, including trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir, were stopped at various places including Jammu and Udhampur districts.
The SSP said there is no restriction on the movement of traffic between Jammu-Doda-Kishtwar, Jammu-Ramban, Magerkot-Banihal and Banihal-Qazigund stretches.
The officials said commuters were seen crossing the damaged portion on foot to reach their destinations.
The traffic was supposed to ply from Srinagar to Jammu on Monday but was suspended in view of the incident, they said.
The traffic on the highway plies alternatively from the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar to facilitate a smooth movement of vehicles in view of the ongoing work on the four-laning highway project.
However, there was some respite for residents of Srinagar from intense cold as minimum temperatures rose at most places in Kashmir on Monday, officials said.
Srinagar city -- the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir -- recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius up from minus 2.6 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 9.6 degrees Celsius down from minus 7.2 degrees Celsius the night earlier.
Gulmarg was the coldest recorded place in the valley.
Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 5.9 degrees Celsius a night earlier.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 1.0 degrees Celsius and Kokernag minus 2.0 degrees Celsius.
The weatherman has predicted generally dry weather over the next few days.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan' -- the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While 'Chillai-Kalan' which began on December 21 -- will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).

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