STATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar/Jammu: The Srinagar-Leh highway which remained closed for over a week due to heavy snowfall and slippery road surface at high-altitude Zojila top was reopened for vehicular traffic on Tuesday, officials said.
“The traffic movement was allowed from Srinagar towards Ladakh today,” a Border Roads Organisation official said.
A large number of vehicles carrying civilians and security personnel were allowed to cross the snow-bound Zojila top at 11,500-feet in the afternoon, he said. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is looking after the road, said the vehicles carrying essential supplies to Ladakh crossed the Zojila top in the day time.
“All the assistance is being extended by the Border Roads at the Zojila top by deputing men and machinery during any emergency to help out the vehicles,” BRO commander Mukesh Kumar said.
Meanwhile, cold conditions prevailed in Kashmir as the minimum temperature remained below the freezing point across the valley, even as the MET Office said the weather is likely to remain dry and cold till the weekend when a spell of light to moderate snowfall is possible at widespread places.
The weather remained dry across Kashmir on the second day of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum, officials said.
They said while the valley continued to reel under sub-zero night temperature, there was slight improvement in the mercury at a few places.
Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.2 degrees Celsius down from the previous night’s minus 4 degrees Celsius, they said.
The mercury in Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir also went down from the previous night’s low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius to settle at a low of minus 5.8 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
They said Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 5.8 degrees Celsius up from Monday’s minus 6.4 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund the gateway town to the valley recorded the minimum of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in the north, registered a low of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, minus 3.6 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
‘Chillai-Kalan’ is considered the harshest winter period in Kashmir as a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley
The chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall, the officials said.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).
The MET Office has said except for light to moderate snowfall in some areas in the higher reaches of Kashmir, the weather is likely to remain dry and cold till December 26 forenoon.
A spell of light to moderate snowfall at widespread places in the valley is likely from the evening of December 26 to the night of 27, the MET Office said.