Sonia’s tour of snow-hit Jammu and Kashmir areas cut short

February 22nd, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Jammu, Feb 22 (IANS) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s tour of the snow-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir was cut short Friday as the chopper carrying them could not reach the Kashmir valley due to bad weather, officials said. Gandhi, Patil and a team of home ministry officials wanted to assess the situation in areas affected by heavy snowfall.

The UPA chairperson and the home minister landed at the Udhampur airbase Friday morning, where they were received by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Union Water Resources Minister Saif-ud-din Soz.

Gandhi and Patil then left by helicopter to survey the snow-hit areas of Doda and Kishtwar districts in Jammu region.

The UPA chairperson first reached the chief minister’s hometown Bhaderwah in Doda district to assess the losses due to recent heavy snowfall. She met a gathering of about 200 people amidst tight security.

“She shook hands with people and listened to them, giving assurance of all possible help,” said an official.

After spending about 20 minutes in Bhaderwah, the team left for Marwah - a remote mountainous areas in adjoining Kishtwar district that was hit by heavy snowfall and avalanches.

In some areas in Kishtwar, there has been up to 15 feet of snowfall leading to collapse of houses, disruption of communication and lack of basic amenities.

Officials said it started snowing again as Gandhi and Patil were assessing the situation in Marwah.

The chopper that they were travelling in was not able to cross over to the Kashmir valley due to the bad weather and they were forced to return to Udhampur.

Officials said the UPA chairperson and the home minister may later go to Srinagar by plane.

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