SRINAGAR: The first snowfall in November in the Valley since 2009 has plunged Kashmir into darkness and caused extensive damage to apple orchards.
The Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the only road link connecting Kashmir with other parts of the country, was reopened for one-way traffic after remaining closed for 18 hours. Air traffic, which was hit in the light of the season's first snowfall on Saturday, was restored as well.
The plains, including Srinagar, received moderate to heavy snowfall yesterday. The upper reaches of the Valley experienced heavy snowfall.
It was the first snowfall in Srinagar and other parts of Valley in month of November in last nine years, Sonam Lotus, director, metrological department, Kashmir, said.
"The last time Srinagar recorded snow in November was in 2009," he said.
The snowfall led to a power breakdown in the Valley including south, central and north Kashmir.
The entire Valley was pushed to darkness, as trees with thick foliage fell down on electrical lines damaging most of the 33KV lines.
Power supply to the Valley dropped to just 80 MWs as against the normal 1150 MWs supplied on a normal day.
As the snowfall stopped and weather condition improved, the authorities pressed men and machinery into service to restore normal power supply to the Valley.
An official said electricity supply was restored across Kashmir on Sunday, except some areas of south Kashmir districts where four towers collapsed.
He said electricity has been restored to all hospitals and health centres across the Valley.
However, people across Kashmir, including Srinagar, complained that power supply had not been restored fully yet.
People of south Kashmir said they are still reeling under darkness.
The authorities restored one-way traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in the afternoon.
A traffic police official said stranded vehicles were being cleared on a priority basis.
"Once stranded vehicles are cleared, traffic from Srinagar to Jammu will be allowed," he said.
A police spokesman said police personnel, along with Traffic Police, rescued 700 stranded passengers from the snow-hit areas of Jawahar Tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu national highway and Drass in Ladakh.
As the visibility was deemed to have improved since Saturday, normal flight services were restored as well.
"Flights took off and landed at Srinagar airport today," Srinagar Airport director Akash Deep Mathur said.
He said there were a total of 49 movements. "All the back-log was cleared. Everything passed off normally".
Sixteen flights were cancelled and one diverted yesterday due to low visibility at Srinagar airport.
Heavy snowfall has also wrought extensive damage to apple orchards in south and north Kashmir.
"The unseasonal snowfall has wreaked havoc on the apple orchards. We have incurred heavy losses due to the snowfall," said a grower in south Kashmir's Shopian district.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) secretary general Farooq Amin said according to preliminary assessment, apple growers in the Valley have suffered losses worth over Rs 500 cores due to the snowfall.
He said irreparable damage has been caused to apple trees, plantations and orchards.
J&K governor's advisor Khurshid Ahmed Ganai directed officials to assess the losses suffered by the fruit growers and orchardists due to untimely snowfall in the Valley.
He asked them to consolidate district-wise lists of losses suffered by fruit growers so that an assessment of damage can be made.