This season's first heavy snowfall brought life to a standstill in the Valley on Friday. The overnight snowfall badly affected both surface and air traffic. Besides, a major fault in an electricity transmission line disconnected power supply to the Valley.
Kashmir, which witnessed heavy snowfall since late Thursday afternoon till Friday afternoon, remained cut off from the country after snow blocked the only surface link Srinagar-Jammu national highway for second consecutive day. The air traffic was equally thrown out of gear. "No flights operated on Friday due to poor visibility," said Amir Ali, coordinator of the Kashmir valley's disaster management cell.
In fresh snowfall, Srinagar received around 3 inches of snow, while highest of 36 inches were recorded at tourist destination of Gulmarg in north Kashmir. The heavy snowfall cut off most upper reaches of both north and south Kashmir. Besides, many interior roads remained blocked due to snowfall. "The mechanical division is working since Friday night to clear snow off roads," said Ali.
The snowfall once again brought embarrassment for chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also state power minister. For second consecutive year, snowfall damaged 33 KV transmission lines in south Kashmir, plunging a vast area of Kashmir valley into darkness. Last year, it took several days to restore electricity in the valley, sparking protests from local population.
"Heavy snow has caused damage to power lines. The power department is working on a war footing to restore regular supply at the earliest. Against usual supply of 900-1000 MW, only 250MW being supplied because of the damage. Restoration is in progress," said Omar.
People in Kashmir mainly rely on electricity for hot water and heating system in winters. The power disruption is bound to add to the woes of the common man.
Besides Srinagar, north and south Kashmir towns and villages are reeling under darkness and cold conditions because of the power breakdown. The chief minister was barraged with angry messages by consumers for the power breakdown on social networking site Twitter. "It's no excuse but heavy snow causes disruptions the world over, success lies in timely restoration," wrote Omar to calm down residents facing cold conditions.
The heavy snowfall also forced Kashmir University to cancel its examinations scheduled for Friday. In an emergency declared, the Srinagar municipal corporation pressed into hundreds of men and dozens of machines to battle snow clogged lanes in the city.
The state disaster management cell issued fresh high danger avalanche warning for higher reaches of Naugam, Kaiyan and Gurez sector for the next 24 hours. "People staying in snow-bound area of these locations have been advised not to venture in avalanche prone areas," said Ali.
Meanwhile, Kashmir meteorological department director Sonam Lotus said the weather is likely to improve in the next 24 hours.