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A snow removing machine clears last portion of Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road on Monday. — Dawn
A snow removing machine clears last portion of Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road on Monday. — Dawn

MANSEHRA: The National Highway Authority onMonday reopened the Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road to traffic after seven months closure by clearing snow.

Traffic on the road, which links Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was suspended in November last year following heavy snowfall in Kaghan valley.

District police officer Zaibullah Khan told reporters that the road’s reopening had resumed traffic between GB and KP, while police would deploy personnel on checkpoints in upper parts of Kaghan valley for the safety of tourists and other road users.

“We are vigilant to ensure the smooth journey of visitors in Kaghan valley,” he said.

After the road’s reopening, the people, including tourists, resumed travelling between Kaghan valley and Chilas.

“Our family is on a recreational trip to Kaghan valley and wants to go to Hunza and other scenic parts in GB, so the reopening of MNJ Road has facilitated us,”Karachi-based tourist Fatima Tabassum told reporters here in Naran area.

She said some areas of lower Kaghan valley continued to be covered by snow and thus, attracting picnickers.

“We are going to snow-capped upper parts of Kaghan valley,” she said.

Resident Ahsan Fiaz said the MNJ Road had been cleared by the NHA up to Babusar Top.

He said for the first time, modern machines were brought to the valley to clear snow and cut glaciers.

FORESTS DESTROYED: A wildfire destroyed widespread forests in Shergar area of Oghi tehsil on Monday.

The fire, which broke out in the morning, wasn’t put out in the evening destroying newly-planted saplings and pine, didar and biar trees.

The residents of nearby villagers tried in vain to extinguish fire.

Conservator of the forest department, Hazara division, Azhar Khan said he had ordered the immediate extinguishing of fire in Shergar forests.

He said the fire apparently broke out accidently but a probe was under way to ascertain its exact cause.

The residents of Shergar and Balakot areas insisted that the people involved in irregularities in the Billion Tree Tsunami afforestation programme were behind the wildfire as they wanted to prevent themselves from an ongoing National Accountability Bureau probe.

Mohammad Jibran said the fire smashed traces or bottoms of trees illegally cut.

“Many employees of the forest department are also to blame for such fires,” he told reporters.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019