Srinagar, JUN 30 :
Authorities on Saturday sounded a flood alert in central Kashmir even as three deaths were reported in rain-related mishaps in the Jammu region of the northern Indian state.
Srinagar-bound traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar high was suspended due to the lurking threat of floods in the Valley, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded, officials said.
The Amarnath Yatra was halted again as both Pahalgam and Baltal routes were slippery because of the rain, a spokesperson of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board said.
But the weather showed improvement later in the day in both regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
Intermittent rains since last night led to the flood alert in central Kashmir, but water levels had already started receding in the southern part of the Valley.
The authorities had on Friday issued a flood alert in south Kashmir. On Saturday, they put out an alert for low-lying areas in central Kashmir, including the summer capital Srinagar, and asked people to remain prepared for evacuation.
Schools across the Valley were closed on Saturday.
In the Jammu region, three persons were killed and nearly a dozen houses damaged in rain-related mishaps since yesterday, officials said.
Harbans Lal (45) was washed away by a flash flood in a stream near his house in Natulphal village in Akhnoor sector this afternoon. A 22-year-old man, Anzar Ahmad, died in a similar case in the Surankote area of Poonch
Flood alert in…
district yesterday. A woman, Jameela, was killed when a tree fell on her shelter in Kishtwar district.
On the Sringar-Jammu highway, Srinagar-bound vehicles were stopped at various places between Ramban and Banihal around 2 pm as a precautionary measure, officials said.
The local administration was making arrangements to lodge passengers for the night at government buildings, including schools.
The Jammu-bound traffic was, however, allowed to proceed.
A fleet of vehicles, carrying over 2,000 Amarnath pilgrims, had also crossed the Jawahar tunnel around noon and reached the Pahalgam base camp, they said.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra reviewed the situation arising out of the increasing water levels of Jhelum and Tawi rivers, and other major streams, at a meeting this morning, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.
He directed the administration to keep all the agencies concerned at a high level of preparedness to deal with any exigency.
Kashmir has experienced rainfall over the past three days and yesterday the downpour intensified in many parts, including Srinagar.
The rising water levels triggered fears of a rerun in the Valley of the 2014 floods that caused widespread devastation and left over 300 people dead.
Meanwhile The Amarnath Yatra from Jammu was suspended today owing to frequent disruptions caused by heavy rains since the beginning of the annual pilgrimage, while the over 2,000 pilgrims who were stranded in Udhampur, left for the Pahalgam base camp this morning, a police officer said.
“The yatra from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here has been suspended. No pilgrim was allowed from here but the stranded convoy, carrying 2,032 pilgrims, including 315 women, left for Pahalgam base camp in south Kashmir this morning,” he said.
According to the officer, the decision to suspend the yatra from here was taken in view of inclement weather.
A majority of the pilgrims in the third batch who left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp yesterday were stranded in Udhampur district due to frequent disruption in the flow of traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
While 844 pilgrims, including 229 women, who opted for the 12-km Baltal route managed to reach their destination late last night, 2,032 pilgrims who chose the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track were stopped by the authorities at Tikri and other places in Udhampur as a precautionary measure.
“After getting the road clearance, the pilgrims were allowed to start their journey towards their destination this morning,” the police officer said.
There was an incident of shooting stones at Battery Chashma in Ramban district. Later, the highway was cleared for traffic.
A flood alert was sounded in south and central Kashmir after many parts of the state were lashed by monsoon rains intermittently since June 27, leaving thousands of pilgrims who have reached the twin base camps of Baltal in Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in Anantnag district stranded.
The rains also triggered landslides and shooting stones at several places along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway yesterday, but timely action by the authorities concerned ensured that the 260-km all-weather road connecting the Valley with the rest of the country, remains open.
Officials said over 5,000 pilgrims from various parts of the country had reached Jammu to participate in the yatra.
“Adequate arrangements are in place for the pilgrims. Over 1,200 pilgrims are lodged at Bhagwati Nagar base camp, while the rest have been provided accommodation at other places,” they said.
Despite incessant rains, the pilgrimage to the 3,880 metre high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas commenced as per schedule on June 28 after several hours of delay. However, the pilgrimage faced frequent disruptions owing to continuous rainfall.
The 60-day yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival.