Traffic movement on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained suspended for the second day on Sunday as authorities stepped up efforts to restore the road amid improved weather conditions, officials said.
The 270-km highway, the only all weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Saturday following heavy rains overnight that triggered multiple landslides and also washed away a portion of nearly 40-metre road stretch near Panthiyal tunnel in Ramban district.
The closure of the highway left over 3,500 vehicles, including those carrying Amarnath pilgrims from Jammu to Kashmir, stranded at different places.
After hectic efforts, the highway was partially opened for stranded vehicles with concerned agencies bypassing the damaged road stretch by connecting an old road alignment and clearing the debris, the officials said.
However, they said sinking of road at Chamba near Seeri and fresh landslides at Mehar and Cafeteria Morh forced the authorities to suspend the traffic once again.
Ramban Deputy Commissioner Massarat-ul-Islam, along with Senior Superintendent of Police, traffic national highway, Rohit Baskotra, and senior officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) visited the problematic spots, including Panthiyal, to inspect the ongoing works.
Efforts are going on at war footing to ensure early opening of the highway. The damaged portion of road near Panthiyal was a temporary arrangement as work on a bridge was going on. The engineers are working on a plan to make the permanent bridge connecting T3 and T5 tunnels motorable to allow traffic through T5 tunnel bypassing Panthiyal slide, NHAI Project Director Parshutam Kumar told PTI.
He said necessary works like filling and grading are in progress to allow traffic via the newly constructed bridge over Panthiyal nullah.
Different agencies are working round-the-clock to ensure early restoration of the highway. We request people to know the condition of the road from the traffic department before starting their journey, SSP Baskotra said.
He said all the pilgrims stranded on the highway are safe and are being provided all facilities.
Ajay Kumar, an engineer working with a private construction company, said they are expecting to provide an alternative road near Panthiyal tunnel by this evening.
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