Jammu-Srinagar national highway reopened, stranded vehicles allowed to Kashmir

Banihal/Udhampur/Jammu
Hundreds of vehicles, stranded for four days, were allowed to proceed to Kashmir on Friday evening as a lane was restored on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway after recently constructing a stretch of road to replace the one swept away by the flash floods, officials said.

The 270 km highway has been blocked since Tuesday due to landslides, mudslides and rock blasting at 33 locations in Ramban and Udhampur districts.

“The highway has been reopened to traffic. On June 20, the highway was closed due to stone throwing in Panthiyal. So the traffic was blocked,” National Highway Police (SSP) Chief Superintendent Shabir Ahmad Malik told reporters on Friday night.

Malik said that although all blockages were lifted and traffic was cleared, the major issue of road removal at Dewal Bridge near Samroli on June 21 took three and a half days to resolve.

“The base of the road has been washed away. A new road patch has been created and traffic has been restored tonight,” he said.

Traffic was allowed into Kashmir, and with that, more than 1,500 vehicles stuck for nearly four days, including convoys carrying langars for the Amarnath Yatra, were released, he said.

On Saturday, traffic from Srinagar to Jammu will be allowed, he added.

A 150-foot-long stretch of road and an under-construction bridge over the highway were also washed out due to flash flooding triggered by heavy rains.

On Thursday night, officials were optimistic that the roughly 1,300 vehicles stuck on the freeway would be cleared by tonight, saying road clearing work was being carried out on a war footing.

However, it suffered a major blow this afternoon when another landslide occurred at the top of the hill, halting restoration work on the Dewal Bridge near Samroli, officials said.

Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Musarrat Islam, who personally monitored the road clearing operation, said the district administration had made arrangements for overnight, meals and other facilities for the stranded passengers .

“The Peerah bridge formwork under construction was washed away by heavy rain (on the highway),” a police official said, adding that the one normally used for traffic is safe. In Udhampur district, a 150ft stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar highway was washed away on Wednesday near Toldi Nallah, 16 kilometers from the city, they said.

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