Nearly 150 vehicles bound for Srinagar and stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to slippery road conditions and heavy snowfall on Tuesday and Wednesday were cleared on Thursday afternoon.
However, no fresh vehicular movement was allowed on the highway on Wednesday.
Traffic inspector general of police Muneer Khan said, "As many as 140 Srinagar-bound vehicles, including 100 light motor vehicles and 40 trucks, were cleared across Jawahar Tunnel today. We had a tough time clearing the vehicles due to accumulation of snow and blizzards striking the area around Shatani Nallah near Bahihal."
He added, "We will allow one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar on Friday."
Meanwhile, the industries minister on Thursday reviewed the measures taken to restore the vehicular movement on the Jammu-Srinagar and other national highways, besides interior roads blocked following the recent heavy snowfall.
It was discussed in the meeting that the Jammu-Srinagar was likely to be thrown open for one-way movement of traffic on Friday, as the clearance of stranded vehicles, including goods carriers and passenger buses from the 300km artery road would be completed by Thursday evening.
The Qazigund-Jawahar Tunnel and Ramban-Batote stretches have been cleared, and the Jammu-Patnitop section of the national highway has been opened for vehicular movement.
It was also discussed that traffic movement on national highways connecting the erstwhile Doda district and the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri would also be restored fully by Friday.
Besides, landslides near Thathri, which blocked a section of the Batote-Kishtwar National Highway, would be completed on Thursday. The post-snow status in Poonch and Rajouri districts was also reviewed in the meeting.
Later, industries minister Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo, roads and buildings minister Abdul Majid Wani, accompanied by Jammu divisional commissioner Shantmanu and Jammu inspector general of police, flew to Banihal, Kishtwar and Doda to assess measures taken by the district administrations concerned to restore services in snow-affected areas and mitigate their difficulties, and asked the deputy commissioners concerned to keep a vigil on hoarding and black-marketing to keep market prices under check.
Kichloo claimed that a helicopter service would be started for Dachhan, Marwah and Wadwan areas of Chenab Valley to airlift stranded passengers and patients.
Meanwhile, more than 1,100 vehicles were stranded at various locations around Jammu and at Udhampur.
A traffic police official said, "More than 1,100 commercial and private vehicles bound for Srinagar are stuck in areas near Jammu, and 625 vehicles are stranded at Nud, 112 at Sidhra, 263 at Jammu bypass, 45 at Bantalab and 110 vehicles are stranded at Jakhani and Udhampur."
Residents allege creation of false scarcity
Even as the Border Roads Organisation remained busy clearing roads of snow, hundreds of vehicles carrying essentials were stranded at various places on the national highway.
Residents in Srinagar alleged that closure of the highway had many shopkeepers selling eatables at higher prices. They also alleged deliberate shortage of supplies in the market.
Officials ordered not to leave HQs
The government has directed all deputy commissioners and district superintendents of police not to leave the headquarters without prior permission of the designated authority.
The government order has further directed that the divisional commissioners and inspector generals of police of the respective divisions and zones shall also not leave the headquarters without permission of the chief secretary.
CM holds video conference
Chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday held a video conference with district administrations to take stock of the situation arising in the wake of snowfall.
He also reviewed the pace on progress of restoration operation of affected services in south Kashmir, which witnessed heavy snowfall.
The district development commissioners and senior officers of Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian districts briefed the chief minister on all aspects of the restoration operations.
"Market vigil has been intensified and hoarders and unscrupulous elements warned of severe action if found indulging in black-marketing, hoarding and creating difficulties for people," the officials claimed.
The chief minister asked the officers "to be alert and responsive to the public needs in the present hour of challenge".