Srinagar: The Amarnath yatra was on Friday suspended as Kashmiri Valley has been experiencing incessant rains turning the tracks to the 3,888-metre-high cave-shrine slippery. “There is also apprehension of landslides en-route”, said an official here.
“Keeping in view their safety, the movement of pilgrims to the cave-shrine via the (shorter) Baltal route has been totally suspended due to nonstop rainfall in the entire yatra route since Wednesday night,” a spokesman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said.
Although 1,263 pilgrims proceeded towards Amarnath from traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari route to the next halting place Sheshnag on Friday morning, latest reports from the area said that the pilgrims were not being allowed to move beyond it (Sheshnag) as it has become risky to walk on wet and slippery tracks.
The situation was reviewed at a meeting convened by Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Narendra Nath Vohra, here on Friday evening. Mr. Vohra who is also the chairman of the SASB asked for suspending the yatra immediately and for making necessary arrangements for comfortable stay of the pilgrims at the base-camps of Baltal and Nunwan (Pahalgam) and at various halting places en-route, the board officials said.
They said that on the second day of the annual pilgrimage 1,287 devotees who had already reached Amarnath, however, paid obeisance at the cave-shrine on Friday.
Reports said that the pilgrims who have already reached the shrine area have been advised not to attempt to return to the base-camps as it is dangerous to move along the slippery tracks. “They will be allowed to walk down the tracks only when weather improves and it becomes safe for them to undertake journey back to the base-camps of Baltal and Pahalgam,” said SASB spokesman.
Heavy rains lashed most parts of Kashmir Valley again on Friday causing a flood situation in some area including south districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama. The Meteorological (MeT) Department officials said that the incessant rains led to an increase in the water level in streams and rivers across the Valley, especially in south Kashmir. “There has been an increase of around one foot in water level with each hour since 9 am today (Friday). We have asked the people living near the streams, rivers and their tributaries and other water bodies in south Kashmir to remain vigilant,” said a spokesman of the State’s Irrigation and Flood Control Department (J&KIFCD).
Reports received here said the Lidder and Vishow rivulets in south Kashmir are in spade which has also led to the increasing of water level in the Valley’s main river Jhelum which passes through summer capital Srinagar.
The officials said that monsoon has arrived in J&K a week ahead of its schedule this year, as intermittent light to heavy rains lashed several parts of the state bringing the mercury down by several notches.
As Srinagar was worst hit in the floods of September 2014, the people particularly those residing along the banks of the Jhelum are a worried lot. The district administration has in view of the continuous rainfall set up a helpline for the general public to get in touch for any assistance that might be required.
A report from south Kashmir said that flood alert has been sounded in parts of the region as the water level crossed the danger mark of 21 feet at Sangam in Anantnag district at 6 pm on Friday evening. Confirming it, Mir Muhammad Shahnawaz, Chief Engineer of the J&KIFCD, said, “Flood has been declared in south Kashmir as the water level in Jhelum was 21. 33 feet at 6 pm whereas the danger mark is 21 feet.”
The Anantnag district administration has set up a joint control room with representatives from all concerned departments at the district headquarters for the general public to provide any assistance required. The control room, a spokesman of the DC’s office said, shall function round-the-clock to tackle the situation arising from the inclement weather.
Jammu region of the State too has been witnessed heavy rains for the past two days. In Doda district of the region, all government and private schools remained closed on Friday “as a precautionary measure.”
The 110-km Batote-Doda-Kishtwar highway and also Srinagar-Kargil highway beyond Baltal have been closed.
In a related development, the government has deferred summer vacations in all educational institutions up to Higher Secondary level functioning in Kashmir Division and winter zone areas of Jammu Division till further orders. “The decision was taken in view of present climatic conditions in the State,” a spokesman of the education department said.
Earlier, the government had ordered the summer vacations for the educational institutions in both divisions from July 2 to 14.
A Raj Bhavan spokesman said on Friday evening that the Governor has reviewed the flood preparedness with his Advisor B. B. Vyas and officers from other concerned departments. “The Governor asked the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and all Deputy Commissioners of the Valley to establish control rooms and notify helpline numbers for the information of the general public,” the spokesman said
Earlier in the day, on the directions of the Governor, a team of officers from the J&KIFCD carried out a safety audit of the embankments of the rivers and nallahs for any corrective action that may be required to be taken, the spokesman said....