Banihal/Jammu, Jan 9 (PTI) The Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed for the third day on Sunday owing to heavy snowfall and multiple landslides in Ramban district even as the road clearance agencies speeded up the restoration work amid improvement in weather, officials said.
The helicopter service resumed at the holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district, while efforts are on to restart the battery car service, they said.
With improvement in weather after days of heavy rain and snowfall across Jammu and Kashmir, especially on Friday and Saturday, the road clearance operation was intensified to restore traffic on the 270-km-long strategic highway the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country.
The restoration is not possible today (Sunday) as loose debris from the hillocks overlooking the highway at various places is still flowing down and delaying the clearance operation, Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic (National Highway), Shabir Ahmad Malik told PTI.
He said the highway is cleared from Jammu to Mehar in Ramban, though single-way at some places.
The clearance work is underway at Cafeteria Morh and Maroge where continuous loose debris is flowing down, hampering the restoration work. Work to restore the damaged steel tunnels at Panthiyal and Magerkote is underway.
“Clearance work at Khooni Nallah is yet to start as machinery has to be shifted after work at Magerkote, the officer said.
He said the highway from snow-covered Ramsu to Banihal is cleared but slippery and only a single carriageway can be currently used.
From Banihal to Railway Chowk, the road is single, while both tubes of Qazigund-Banihal tunnel are available for single carriageway with snow clearance work in progress, he said.
The highway was closed for vehicular traffic on Friday afternoon shortly after it was opened for fresh traffic after two days of closure.
Our priority is clearance of over a few dozen stranded passenger vehicles, the SSP said, adding a fresh review on traffic will be taken later in the day.
The officials said the helicopter service to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop Trikuta hills resumed early on Sunday with winter Sun making its appearance after five days, much to the relief of the people who were reeling under intense cold.
However, the battery car service remained suspended and efforts are on to restore it, the officials said, adding the yatra is being carried out smoothly.
Meanwhile, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri, has postponed the Ph.D entrance test, scheduled for January 12, by three days.
In view of the inclement weather conditions and repeated requests of the candidates from the valley, the Ph.D entrance test has been postponed and will now be held on January 15 at the same time and venue as notified earlier, Dean, Academic Affairs of the university, Prof Iqbal Parwez said.
A spokesperson of the meteorological department asked people not to venture out in avalanche-prone areas and remain cautious, especially during the next two days.
The weather improved significantly in Jammu and Kashmir and is likely to remain dry till January 16. Although the snowfall has ceased, the threat of avalanches still exists in snow-bound areas, he said.