BANIHAL/JAMMU: The traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was affected for the fourth consecutive day Saturday due to the intermittent shooting of stones from a hillock overlooking the only all-weather road linking Kashmir Valley with rest of the country.
No fresh vehicular traffic was allowed on the highway, either from Jammu or Srinagar, over the past three days owing to multiple landslides and shooting of stones at several places, including Anokhi fall, Battery Cheshma and Mokey Morh in Ramban district, officials said.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik had recently announced closure of the 270-km highway for civilian traffic on Sunday and Wednesday every week to allow smooth movement of security forces' convoys.
With no movement of security convoy on Wednesday, the authorities had allowed Srinagar-bound vehicles from winter capital Jammu, but thousands of commuters were left stranded on the highway following blocking of the road due to multiple landslides and shooting of stones triggered by rains.
Though road clearance agency pressed men and machines and removed the debris from the road, the authorities decided against allowing fresh traffic on the highway on Thursday to facilitate over 2,500 stranded vehicles, the officials said.
However, a massive landslide again hit the road on Thursday-Friday night at Monkey Morh, once again halting the movement of the traffic.
The traffic was allowed Friday morning but continuous shooting of stones hampered the smooth movement of vehicles, they said.
"The road is open, but the traffic is moving at a slow pace due to intermittent shooting of stones at Monkey Morh. We are hopeful of clearing the remaining 600 stranded vehicles, mostly trucks, by this evening," Senior Superintendent of Police, national highway, Jatinder Singh Johar told PTI.
He said since there will be convoy movement on Sunday, no civilian vehicle will be allowed from either Jammu or Srinagar.
Meanwhile, CPM state secretary G N Malik said the ban on civilian traffic has adversely affected horticulture sector in the Valley as he called for hassle-free movement of fruit-laden trucks.
"There is a large chunk of apples stored in cold storage which require urgent transportation to various destinations in the country. The apple crop has been hit badly by the ban," he said in a statement.
The Left leader urged the Governor administration to allow these trucks to ply towards Jammu so that they reach their destinations well in time.
"The harvesting of cherry crop is expected to start from May and will continue till June in Kashmir valley and the growers associated with it are extremely woeful as restrictions will hit the transportation of this short lasting crop.
The ban is unjustified and will make small-time farmers suffer," he added.