A fresh late-winter spell of snowfall threw life out of gear in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday with road and air traffic being badly affected in the region.
Landslides and caving in of road stretches on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway led to the closure of the 294km-long road link. More than 2,000 vehicles were stranded at various places on the closed Jammu-Srinagar National Highway even as incessant rainfall increased the risk of flooding in several low-lying areas in the Jammu region.
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"Yesterday (Sunday), when the road was opened for some time, we managed to clear more than 3,000 stranded vehicles, today (Monday) there are around 1,500 stranded vehicles at one stretch and there might be 500 more at other places on the highway," senior superintendent of police (traffic national highway) Sanjay Kotwal said.
Schoolchildren faced trouble reaching schools after 122 days of winter vacations came to an end. The Valley's upper reaches received snow more than a feet high and plains recorded less than half-a-feet of snow, which began on Monday morning. The fresh snow spell came after two days of intermittent rain in the region.
Air traffic was also suspended due to decreased visibility and accumulation of snow at the Srinagar airport.
The suspension of air traffic affected court work in Srinagar where only one judge was available and all those travelling from Jammu to Srinagar remained stranded there.
Several interviews and university seminars were cancelled due to the inclement weather.
However, the state board examinations were held. "All exams will be held on schedule. There is no question of delaying exams as several already had been postponed in the past. We are already late for the new session," Kashmir director education Showkat Ahmad Beigh.
The students examinations, scheduled for last year were cancelled first due to floods in September-October and then due to harsh winters. Kashmir valley saw unprecedented lockdown of schools and colleges for more than six months since the September 2014 floods.
Parents of schoolchildren, however, expressed concern over school children joining schools after fresh snowfall. "Roads remain water logged. There are no proper heating arrangements. It is not easy for children to attend schools in this freaky and untimely snowfall," said Nazeer Ahamd, a parent of two children.
The government was forced to extend winter vacations thrice in the last. Monday was first day for middle-class school children to join schools after 122 days of prolonged holidays.
Several areas in north and south Kashmir also remain cut off from their district headquarters. Shopian legislator Muhammad Yousuf Bhat appealed the government to clear stretches of snow in areas of Hirpora, Sedow and Kellar.
At least 27 families were evacuated to safer location in south Kashmir's Waltengo Narr following threat of snow avalanches, said a police bulletin. Fresh warning of snow avalanches to people living in upper reaches have been issued for those living in upper reaches in the valley.
Meanwhile, the meteorological department forecast more snowfall and rainfall in next 24 hours. "Moderate to heavy rain and snow would occur at many places. There will be decrease in precipitation from March 17," said MeT director Sonum Lotus.
This year first two months of winter, starting December, saw little snowfall but with spring nearing an unprecedented snowfall is frequently occurring in the last one month. firstname.lastname@example.org