After remaining closed for two days, the Jammu- Srinagar national highway was partially opened for traffic on Tuesday. Meanwhile, fresh snowfall has once again unleashed a cold wave in the Valley.
The cold wave tightened its grip on the Kashmir valley as the higher reaches of the region received fresh snowfall on Monday night. Srinagar also recorded minor snowfall in the evening.
Srinagar received 0.5 mm of rainfall and light snowfall during the night, with the mercury settling at 0.6° Celsius, according to the meteorological department.
Gulmarg, the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir, remained the coldest resort with temperature hovering around -9.2° Celsius.
Pahalgam, a known tourist destination of south Kashmir, received 20 cm snow in the last 24 hours. The minimum temperature there was recorded as -3.0° Celsius.
The MeT department, however, has forecast decrease in snowfall in the coming days. "There is a possibility of snowfall in isolate places. However, the next 4-5 days will be dry as weather will improve," said Srinagar meteorological director Sonum Lotus.
Meanwhile, with improvement in weather in the afternoon, the traffic police allowed traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Heavy snowfall had forced to close the highway for the last two days, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded.
A senior traffic official said that only vehicles stranded on the highway were allowed to ply on Tuesday afternoon.
"Vehicles were allowed to travel from Srinagar to Jammu only," said the traffic official.
More than 2000 vehicles were cleared with the opening of one-way traffic on Tuesday. IGP traffic Muneer Ahmad Khan informed, "Today, around 2000 vehicles including passenger as well load carriers from Srinagar crossed Jawahar Tunnel. Stranded vehicles at various sectors were also cleared. If the weather permits we allow movement of traffic from Jammu to Srinagar tomorrow."
To what are the most troublesome areas on the highway, the IGP said, "Banihal-Qazigund and Patnitop sectors are the worst affected due to snow. After 4 pm, the fog makes driving immensely difficult".
The traffic department has directed the passenger vehicles to cross Pantha Chowk at 11 am, Lower Munda at 1pm and the Jawhar Tunnel up to 3 pm from tomorrow onwards.
Meanwhile, due to closure of highway for the last three days, passengers stranded at the Jammu bus stand protested and asked the administration to allow them to move towards their respective destinations.
Abdul Habib of Batmalo, Srinagar, while criticising the administration, said, "Every year the same situation arises. Why cannot the government take notice and take precautionary measures?"
Ram Singh of Kishtwar said, "I do not know why the Doda, Kihtwar and Bhaderwah bound vehicles are not allowed and the entire highway is being closed."