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Jammu-Srinagar highway re-opens

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: February 09, 2008 23:29 IST
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The Jammu-Srinagar national highway was opened for traffic on Saturday evening after being blocked by heavy snowfall for a week, much to the relief of the people in the Valley.

The weather across the state opened up on Saturday, bringing sunshine and warmth with it -- ending a week of gloomy and grim weather, which saw one of the heaviest snowfalls in the region in living memory.

Unprecedented snowfall, ranging in depth from 2 to 17 feet, played havoc with life and property across the state, claiming at least 19 lives.

Assessment of damage to property has been initiated by the state administration and is expected to be in crores.

Teams with medical and food supplies have been rushed to the far-flung areas of the state to provide immediate succor to the affected population.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had an aerial survey of the affected mountainous areas of Doda and Kishtwar districts in Jammu region on Saturday. He made stopovers at several places to assure people of the government being alive to the situation.

The re-opening of the highway has brought cheer to the Valley, which is largely dependent on the highway for essential supplies like fresh vegetables, milk and meat, which had started running short.

The authorities have decided to clear the stranded passenger vehicles and trucks carrying supplies immediately.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force flew special sorties between Jammu and Srinagar on Saturday to carry stranded passengers and tourists at nominal bus fare rates.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar