Heavy rain and snow have disrupted life across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), blocking roads due to heavy landslides.
The rain, blanketing northern districts of AJK, triggered landslides at various points, disconnecting hundreds of towns and villages in Neelum, Jhelum and Lipa valleys from Muzaffarabad.
The weekly Intra Kashmir bus service was suspended due to the closure of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, owing to heavy landslides at several places between Muzaffarabada and Chakothi. The trade service across the Line of Control was affected, with trucks stranded on either side.
The only roads connecting Neelum and Leepa valleys to Muzaffarabad have been blocked since the start of February, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded. The valleys have been without electricity for weeks now. Telephone services also remain suspended. Analysts fear shortage of food and medicine in the cut-off communities.
Rain water has seeped through the tents and makeshift shelters housing hundreds of families in AJK.
In many remote areas, schools have been forced to shutdown because of inadequate provisions to deal with rain. Most schools in these areas are either housed in tents are or run under open sky.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2011.