• 139 flights cancelled at Srinagar airport during past 6 days
• Met predicts more rains, snowfall from today onward
• Traffic to ply from Sgr-Jmu on NH44, Mughal Road closed
• Admin orders closure of Leh-Sonamarg highway during winters
For the first time in the history of Srinagar International Airport, foggy weather has disrupted flight operations for the 6th consecutive day in Kashmir, official said Wednesday.
A senior official at the Airport Authority of India (AAI), wishing not to be named, said it was for the first time that flights had been cancelled for more than 5 days.
“In the past 26-28 years, it is for the first time that air traffic has been suspended at the airport for such a long time,” the official said.
As per the official, earlier there were small disruptions by the snowfall that would mostly remain for 3 to 4 days but this year’s is the longest-ever suspension.
“Earlier, 4 to 5 day suspension of flights was witnessed during 1991 and thereafter it was the usual 2 to 3 day suspension,” the official said.
Director Srinagar International Airport, Santosh Dokay said all flights from Srinagar to other parts were cancelled on Wednesday in view of foggy weather conditions.
“All 26 flights scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled again in view of poor visibility on the track,” he said.
Dokay said, in the afternoon, there was poor visibility on the track and it was recorded at 500 meters against the normal 1000 meters.
In the morning hours, the visibility was 100 meters, which is very low as per the flight standards, he said.
About 139 flights have been cancelled at the airport due to foggy weather conditions in Kashmir for the past 6 days, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in Kashmir.
As per the officials, around 26 to 28 flights operate from Srinagar airport everyday during the winters.
With the cancellation of air traffic, the fares of air tickets are touching the skies.
The cab drivers operating from Srinagar to Jammu have also increased the fares from 40 to 50 percent, leaving the passengers angry.
A group of students at TRC said with the suspension of air traffic, there has been 60 to 70 percent hike in airfares from Srinagar to other parts.
They said cab drivers had also increased their fares on their own and urged the Lt Governor-led administration to look into the issue.
Meanwhile, snow and rains lashed isolated parts of Kashmir region on Wednesday.
The Ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district received 2.5 cm of fresh snowfall with 2.1 millimeters of rains, while Pahalgam also received snowfall and 6.8 millimeters of rains, officials at the Meteorological department said.
Apart from that, the upper reaches of Bandipora and Kupwara districts were also lashed by rains on Wednesday.
In Jammu division, Bhaderwah also received light snowfall.
However, Meteorological department officials predicted light rains and snowfall in the plains and moderate to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches on Thursday while there would be slight improvement in visibility from Thursday onwards.
Director Meteorological department, Sonam Lotus told Rising Kashmir that they were expecting light snowfall and rains in the plains and moderate to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches from Wednesday onward till Saturday morning.
He said the main activity of snowfall would be on Thursday and the upper reaches in Ladakh would also receive heavy snowfall during this period.
“This spell of snowfall may lead to temporary disruption of air and road traffic operations in Kashmir region and Ladakh,” Lotus said.
As per the officials at the Meteorological department, minimum temperature in Srinagar dipped to minus 1.4 degree Celsius and day temperatures of 6.4 degree Celsius on Wednesday.
North Kashmir’s Kupwara district recorded a low of zero degree Celsius while night temperatures in Pahalgam in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 2.3 degree Celsius last night, the official said.
Leh district recorded a low of minus 11.5 degrees Celsius while night temperature in Qazigund settled at a low of minus 3 degree Celsius.
Jammu recorded a maximum of 19.1 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 9.5 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, the administration has put in place 154 snow clearance machines (SCMs) across the Valley and issued a slew of directions to the officials concerned in light of a heavy snowfall warning in Kashmir valley.
Officials at the Traffic department said there would be a one-way traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway on Thursday and the passage of vehicles would be allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu.
“No vehicles will be allowed from the opposite direction,” the officials said.
SSP Rural Traffic, Muzaffer Ahmad Shah told Rising Kashmir that traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway would be allowed after 1 pm in view of fresh weather advisory.
“If the weather will be clear, they will allow vehicles from Srinagar to Jammu,” he said.
However, authorities have directed the closure of Srinagar-Leh highway during the winter months in view of fresh snowfall in the upper reaches of Sonamarg and Leh.
“The highway will be reopened in March next year by the orders of the administration,” the official said.
Similarly, the passage of vehicles on the Mughal Road connecting the Pir Panjal region has been closed in view of heavy snowfall warning from today onward till Saturday.