Rain, Storm Add To J-K's Woes; Landslips Snap Road Links

1 April 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Srinagar: The second storm within a week hit the Kashmir region on Wednesday, causing moderate rain and triggering precautionary evacuations. The Meteorological Department warned of a lengthy wet spell, which will impact the region with varying intensity till Friday. The Jammu region, especially Poonch, Doda, Reasi and Udhampur districts, experienced incessant rain today. The 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway and 110-km-long Batote-Kishtwar highway were again closed this afternoon at Nashri, Maggarkot and Gangru following fresh landslides. The state administration has its contingency plans ready and sent stocks of essential supplies to the relief camps set up across the summer capital and other districts. The Srinagar administration has asked residents to evacuate low-lying areas in case of an emergency. It has set up 42 relief camps in the city and kept large stockpiles of food and water ready. Boats from Dal Lake are also being moved to various locations to help in relief operations. Poonch Deputy Commissioner MH Malik said special control rooms had been set up at tehsil headquarters and phone numbers of officials had been flashed through media for prompt action. Ramban Deputy Commissioner Farooq Ahmed Bukhari said the district disaster management teams had made arrangements for stranded passengers. Jhelum, which was flooded by the storm earlier this week, today steadily receded below the danger mark after rain paused in the last 36 hours. However, the moderate rainfall today left many concerned. 'Next 24 to 36 hours are critical. As of now clouds are building up and moving towards south Kashmir,' said Met Department Director Sonum Lotus. Lotus and his team are monitoring the build-up of a second storm. 'From analysis of parameters, we are expecting lesser rainfall than received from the previous spell but there is a possibility that the intensity of western disturbance may increase,' he said. Shabir Ahmad Wani, a refugee at the Sanat Nagar relief camp on city's outskirts, said water had inundated low-lying Padshahi Bagh locality, where he lived with his wife and two children. 'We were too scared to stay at home so we moved here,' he said. Hundreds of residents from hilly and low-lying areas of south and north Kashmir have been evacuated so far. Many families in Srinagar have also moved to safer locations.