Traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway has been suspended on Sunday for repairs in Ramban district, officials said while travellers complained of delays on several stretches including those damaged during recent rains.
According to an advisory issued by the traffic police department, no vehicle would be allowed to travel on the strategic highway between Nashri and Banihal tunnels after 6 pm on Saturday.
The restriction would continue till Sunday midnight, it said, adding the suspension of the traffic was imperative to undertake repair and restoration work at Dalwas, where the road stretch was reduced to a single lane following landslides triggered by heavy rains on October 16.
Many people who travelled on the highway over the past week complained of massive traffic snarls especially between the most critical 66-km stretch from Nashri tunnel to Banihal tunnel.
A traffic department official said there was slow movement of traffic on the highway due to the breakdown of 16 heavy motor vehicles, eight nomadic herds and single-lane traffic at Dalwas and Cafeteria-Mehad between Nashri and Banihal tunnels on Friday.
“In view of poor surface condition and sinking of road, NHAI has been directed by the government to undertake repair and restoration work, which will be carried out on Sunday,” the official said.
Though many tunnels and viaducts were completed on the highway under the ongoing four-laning project, landslides triggered by rains have forced single-way traffic at Mehar, Cafeteria and Dalwas, causing a lot of inconvenience.
“It took almost 24 hours for us to reach Jammu from Srinagar on Friday. First there were massive traffic jams due to unregulated movement of trucks in Banihal and slow movement of traffic in Ramsu and Chanderkote,” Farooq Ahmad Shah, a student said.
He said a fortnight back when he was travelling from Delhi to Srinagar, he completed the Jammu-Srinagar stretch in less than six hours.
“Single-lane traffic at certain places coupled with movement of nomadic herds and unregulated flow of trucks despite knowing the condition of the road was the main reason for the massive traffic jamming,” Shah said.
Some travellers complained that they had bought bus and train tickets for their onward journey, but their plans went haywire as they reached Jammu late.
The work on the four-laning project of the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was started by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 2011.
The work which included a number of small and major tunnels, bridges and flyovers, is likely to be completed by next year after missing several deadlines.