Banihal/Jammu/Dehradun: The Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday as fresh snowfall and intermittent landslides hampered the clearance operation adding to the woes of the stranded passengers, officials said.
The 270-km highway is the only all-weather road linking the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country.
In view of the closure of the highway, train service between Qazigund and Banihal was suspended for the day as a large number of Jammu-bound passengers reach Banihal by train and then carry on with their onward journey by road, the officials said.
The highway was closed for vehicular traffic on Wednesday following multiple landslides at Digdole and Chanderkote in Ramban district, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.
"The highway was cleared for one-way traffic on Friday evening. But fresh landslides in Digdole area around midnight forced the closure of the road again. Almost all light passenger vehicles were cleared," a traffic department official said.
There was also fresh snowfall of about six inches around Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — while the Banihal-Ramban stretch witnessed intermittent rains since Saturday morning, the official said.
The weatherman has forecast light to moderate snowfall in most parts of the Valley and high altitude areas of the Jammu region for two days from January 6 evening.
The higher reaches of Uttarakhand hills including Chardham received heavy snowfall while the lower areas were hit by showers and hail as temperatures went down further throughout the state.
The Gangotri and Yamunotri temples in Uttarkashi district, Kedarnath in Rudraprayag besides Badrinath in Chamoli district received heavy snowfall in the afternoon and were covered under thick layers of snow, the Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre officials said.
Harsil, Sukki, Mukhwa, Jankichatti and Kharsali in Uttarkashi district also received snow.
Snowfall in the higher reaches and rain coupled with hail at places in the lower areas led to a sharp drop in mercury levels with locals lighting bonfires to fight the cold.
Nanda Devi National Park and Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary in Chamoli district also received white sheets of snow.
State capital Dehradun was lashed by rain coupled with hail in the afternoon intensifying the cold.
Mukteshwar recorded a minimum of -1.2 degree Celsius followed by New Tehri at 1.2 degrees Celsius, Pantnagar at 6.5 degrees Celsius and Dehradun at 7.3 degrees Celsius, the MeT office said.