Banihal/Jammu, Jan 26 (PTI) A fresh spell of snowfall hampered the efforts of authorities to reopen the Jammu-Srinagar national highway which remained closed for the sixth consecutive day on Saturday, officials said. The continuous closure of the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, had left hundreds of passengers stranded here. The highway was closed on Monday following heavy snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area the gateway to Kashmir – and multiple landslides triggered by the incessant rains between Banihal to Ramban over the past week. “The road clearance operation was going on in full swing and it was expected that the road will be made traffic worthy by Saturday evening. However, heavy snowfall started around noon and was going on, hampering the efforts,” a traffic department official said.

He said about three inches of fresh snowfall had accumulated on the ground at Jawahar Tunnel while its peripheral areas experienced over one feet of snow. Snow coupled with rains also lashed Banihal-Raman stretch of the highway, forcing suspension of the road clearance operation at the areas hit by landslides, including Anokhi Fall and Maroog, he said, adding shooting of stones form the hillocks overlooking the highway was also going on at certain places. He said the road clearance operation would be restarted once the weather improves. Meanwhile, the stranded passengers staged protest demonstrations at Udhampur and Jammu bus stand demanding their airlifting to Srinagar. “There are no arrangements from the government for our stay and we are also running short of money. Like yesteryears, the governor administration should intervene and make arrangements for our airlifting,” Ghulam Mustafa Dar, a resident of Baramulla district of north Kashmir, said. The residents of Jammu woke up to a chilly morning Saturday as the night temperature across the region plummeted several degrees below normal during this part of the season. However, an early morning sun provided relief from the cold. Jammu city recorded a minimum of 3.7 degrees Celsius, five degrees below normal, while Banihal was the coldest place in Jammu region with a low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, a spokesperson of the Met department said.

He said the Batote township along the Jammu-Srinagar highway recorded the night temperature of minus 3.0 degrees Celsius.

The minimum temperature recorded at Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine, was 3.2 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.