Kashmir running out of essential supplies as highway disruption worsens

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Srinagar: Kashmir is running out of essential supplies with petrol stocks limited for eight days only as the deteriorating weather disrupts the traffic on the national highway, the region’s only link with the rest of the country, the officials said. 

The officials said that diesel stock, which fuels much of the public transport, will dry out in twelve days too. Bashir Ahmad Khan, the Director, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Kashmir, said that at the current stock, “rice is available for the next two months. We have 2,60,000 gas cylinders available that are sufficient for twenty-one days.”

However, the recent pattern of traffic movement on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway shows a grim picture. The plans of traffic movement, ordered by Jammu and Kashmir Traffic Police, stated that in the month of December, only one-way traffic was allowed on the highway on alternate days while the highway remained completely shut for four days.

This month, so far the traffic was only allowed to ply for one-and-a-half-day after it shut due to snowfall on the afternoon of 3 January. Talking to The Kashmir Walla, the Senior Superintendent of Police, National Highway, Jatinder Singh Johar, said that currently “more than 2,000 vehicles are stranded from Jawahar Tunnel to Didgol”, in Ramban. 

“We cannot allow the Valley bound vehicles unless we clear the heavy vehicle stranded for a week,” he added. “We do not have issues here but across the Tunnel.” The traffic police are finding “small corridors to ply vehicles” as the weather clears. “We crossed about 5,000 vehicles yesterday. After 12 pm, the fog is less dense and that is when we push vehicles,” said Johar. 

On Saturday, the parts of Valley received fresh light snowfall, however, Johra said it won’t make much difference” to their plans.

In the first quarter of 2019, till March, the disruption of the highway had caused a major crisis in Kashmir as the essential supplies, including petrol and food commodities, dried. 

The Meteorological department said Saturday that the weather is now expected to remain dry till 20 January.

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