The Jammu and Kashmir government is grappling with opening even inter-district roads though, snowfall stopped last evening. Heavy snowfall wreaked havoc in the Valley with the government caught napping.
The Jammu-Srinagar highway is still blocked to traffic as snow has accumulated at various places along the road, including Jawhar Tunnel. According to officials, over 2,000 trucks, tankers and LMVs are stranded at Udhampur after a landslide hit Sarmoli area of the district.
Even after air traffic was thrown open after four days, the road leading to Srinagar Airport had accumulated snow on both sides. Besides traffic snarls, tourists were seen trudging to the airport with luggage, accusing the government of not doing enough.
The snowfall has damaged dozens of houses in Srinagar and other places. The videos of caved-in rooftops of newly constructed houses have gone viral on social media with experts saying the people these days focus more on aesthetics of the houses rather than safety, which has led to the disaster.
In Srinagar, the district administration has sanctioned Rs 15 lakh as immediate assistance to affected families whose houses were damaged in the snowfall. “The relief was sanctioned in favour of over 80 houses. The sanction was also accorded for release of Rs 4 lakh in the case of one death in shed collapse,” a government spokesman said.
However, residents of Srinagar and other places are criticising the government for not even showing any haste to clear accumulated snow. Even shops in the interiors of the city were shut as snow blocked the movement of pedestrians. The government has failed to restore power supply fully in various areas of Srinagar and other districts.
The government said efforts were on to clear the snow and restore the affected services in Srinagar and elsewhere.
“After an even heavier spell of snowfall on Tuesday, work to clear the snow began around 4am on Wednesday. By 6 pm, the mechanical engineering department with its fleet of 25 snow-clearance machines, had cleared around 95 per cent of the main roads, i.e. over 1,240km out of 1,305km in Srinagar,” the government spokesman said.
“Snow-clearance was hampered at many places especially in lanes where cars were parked on the road. At many places snow falling off and being shovelled off the roofs obstructed work,” he added.
Two persons, including a CRPF jawan, died after they were hit by heavy snow.
The slain trooper of 115 Battalion CRPF was on guard duty at the residence of former National Conference legislator Syed Muhammad Akhoon in the Habak Zakoora area on the outskirts of Srinagar. CRPF spokesperson Pankaj Singh identified him as sub-inspector S.C. Marmu of Bankura district West Bengal.
Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Authority (DMA) on Wednesday evening issued high, medium and low-level avalanche warnings in the higher reaches.
It said high danger-level avalanche warning has been issued for higher reaches of Poonch, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar areas of Jammu and Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara Bandipora and Kulgam districts of the Valley.
“People living in these areas have been advised to take precautions and avoid going to the vulnerable areas and to remove snow from their rooftops to avoid loss of lives,” the DMA said.
The government has asked people living in upper reaches not to venture out unless told.
Educational institutes have been shut for the past four days and the University of Kashmir postponed its exams in view of the heavy snowfall.
However, J&K Bank went ahead with the Banking Associate examination, even after many candidates could not reach examination centres.
"We were supposed to report for examination on January 3, 2020, but could not reach on time due to the snow on roads. We were not allowed to enter the examination centre," said a banking associate aspirant. "We pleaded before the authorities to allow us to enter as it wasn't our fault but to no avail," he said. Many candidates who reached late even by one minute were not allowed to sit in the examination, they alleged.
The J&K Bank authorities are yet to respond to the multiple representations from these aspirants.
"This is the same recruitment which was quashed last year on the pretext of corruption. I along with many other aspirants who had qualified the preliminary examination was shocked to hear that the whole process was scrapped. Now that they planned to re-exam in the harsh weather, it became impossible for aspirants to reach early morning," said another aspirant.
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