Srinagar: The Amarnath Yatra was suspended after both its routes, Pahalgam and Baltal were ruled out for use after fresh rainfall in the upper reaches of the Valley. Lakh of pilgrims from West Bengal gone for Amarnath cave shrine.
Officials said the pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath was suspended on Friday as well, the second time since it started on Thursday, after heavy rains damaged the tracks. A Met official said Pahalgam, one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra, received 27.8 mm of rain.
All pilgrims have been safely lodged inside the two base camps, authorities had said a day ago. The pilgrimage has two mountainous routes, the traditional but longer route from south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and a shorter but steeper one from Baltal.
A flood alert has been sounded in south and central Kashmir, with water levels in the Jhelum river rising after heavy rains over the last two days.
Authorities have warned of fresh rainfall and set up a round-the-clock monitoring system in various parts of the state. Water level rose above the danger mark at Sangam in South Kashmir as well as Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar on Saturday morning.
Officials said the Jhelum rose above the critical 21-feet mark at Sangam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district owing to heavy rainfall. “Due to continuous rains over the past two days, the gauge at Sangam has crossed the flood declaration of 21 feet and was flowing at 21.33 feet at 6 pm,” an official at the irrigation and flood control department said.
The water level of the Jhelum at Ram Munshi Bagh stood at 13.34 feet at 6 pm, just 4.5 feet below the flood-declaration point. He said people living along the river bank have been advised to remain vigilant.
A high-level meeting was chaired in Srinagar to monitor the situation. Officials said people living in low-lying areas have been asked to be prepared for evacuation in case of an emergency. Schools across the Valley have been closed as a precautionary measure. A senior police officer said people needn’t panic as the situation was being closely watched
Kashmir experienced heavy rainfall over the past couple of days. The downpour was particularly intense in Srinagar on Friday.
A Met official said Kokernag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district received the highest rainfall at 63.4 mm until 8.30 am while neighbouring Qazigund received 58.6 mm of rainfall. Srinagar had recorded just 12.6 mm of rainfall until 8.30 am, but the intensity increased after that, he added.
Water levels in streams and rivers across the Valley have been increasing sharply since morning, going up by a foot with each hour since 9 am. Residents of the Valley have begun fearing a re-run of the 2014 floods, which caused widespread devastation and left over 300 dead.
But Met officials have predicted an improvement in weather for two days, following which a fresh cycle will give rise to more rainfall in the Valley.