Fresh traffic allowed on Kashmir highway after clearing stranded vehicles

SRINAGAR, May 23 (Agencies): Fresh traffic — including essential service vehicles and SRTC buses — was again on Saturday allowed from Jammu to Srinagar after all the vehicles, stranded since Thursday, were cleared till last night on 270-km-long national highway, connecting Kashmir with rest of the country.

Meanwhile, only essential service vehicles were allowed to move on the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway, connecting Ladakh with Kashmir valley.

“Essential service vehicles and SRTC buses, ferrying stranded passengers to the valley, were on Saturday morning allowed to ply from Jammu to Srinagar on the 270-km-long highway,” a traffic police official told agencies.

He said fresh traffic was allowed on the highway after stranded vehicles, including trucks and SRTC buses, were cleared on Friday. However, today also traffic, particularly trucks, was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar, which people are alleging shortage of essential commodities.

About 2000 Kashmir-bound vehicles, including SRTC buses ferrying stranded people and trucks carrying essential commodities, were stranded at various places on the highway due to the closure of the highway since Thursday. “The vehicles were stranded between Ramban and Jawahar Tunnel,” he said.

He said the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) pressed into service sophisticated machines and cleared the landslides. “Traffic was resumed on Friday after receiving a green signal from NHAI and traffic police officials posted at different places on the highway,” he said.

Only essential service vehicles and SRTC buses, ferrying stranded passengers who were returning from different parts of the country, have been allowed to ply on the highway in view of nation-wide lockdown to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The 434-km-long highway reopened on April 11 after remaining closed for the past about five months due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. However, only vehicles carrying essentials, including petrol, diesel and LPG cylinders, were allowed to ply on the highway.

He said no passenger vehicles will be allowed on the highway, where health checkup for truckers and their helpers — while going to Ladakh and the way back — has been made mandatory to curtail spread of Coronavirus. “Only a driver and a helper would be allowed with a truck, carrying essential commodities to the Union Territory of Ladakh,” he added.

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