Jammu (NVI): The 56-day long annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Amarnathji in south Kashmir will begin on June 28 this year, simultaneously along both the Baltal and Chandanwari routes, and will conclude by August 22.
The decision over the commencement of pilgrimage was taken in the 40th meeting of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), chaired by J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
Those present at the meeting included BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Atal Dulloo, Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department among other members of the Board.
Considering the carrying capacity of the existing tracks and other available infrastructure in the Yatra area, the Board has enhanced the daily route-wise Yatri ceiling from 7,500 pilgrims per day to 10,000 pilgrims per day, excluding pilgrims who would travel by helicopters.
The Board, keeping in view the foremost concern of the safety and security of the pilgrims, informed that this year’s Yatra will be held as per COVID-19 SOPs developed by the government.
Advance registration will start from April 1, 2021, through 446 designated branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank, located across 37 States and UTs.
The Lt Governor also directed for issuance of Special invitations to Akhada Parishads, Acharya Parishads, and exploring the possibility of establishing counters at prominent religious places across the country for the facilitation of Sadhu/Sant Samaj.
In addition to this, it was stated during the meeting that the Board will also enable the live telecast of morning and evening Aarti for devotees across the globe.
Furthermore, the pilgrims can download the ‘Shri Amarnathji Yatra’ app available on the Google play store to get real-time information about the Yatra and for availing several services online.
Laying special emphasis on providing best-in-class healthcare facilities to all the visiting devotees and service providers, the Lt Governor directed the concerned officers to upgrade the present healthcare facilities on both yatra routes with the latest equipment and augment the strength of the medical staff to handle emergency cases.
It was further directed to upgrade the sanitation capacity commensurate with the enhanced yatra volume for base camp and along the routes.
On strengthening the communication channel, Manoj Sinha directed for making the telecom services operational two weeks prior to the commencing of yatra at the Holy Cave and across the yatra routes.
The Board directed for wide publicity to inform the intending pilgrims to timely secure the prescribed Compulsory Health Certificates issued by the doctors/hospitals nominated by the state or UTs in which they reside and only thereafter proceed to seek Advance Registration.
Meanwhile, the Group accidental insurance cover for Yatris, Service Providers have also been enhanced from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and for Ponies from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000.
Appreciating the important services rendered by the Langar Organizations, the Board looked forward to their continued support during Yatra 2021.
The CEO, SASB also apprised the Board about the other initiatives being taken by the Board for facilitating the pilgrims including the introduction of free of cost Battery Car service for the first time for 2.75 kms long Baltal to Domel stretch and vice versa.
Last year the annual yatra to the 3,880-meter-high holy cave shrine was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, the yatra was cancelled mid-way in wake of the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 that year.
The pilgrimage usually starts in June-July on the traditional 36-km-long Pahalgam route in Anantnag district and the shorter 14-km-long Baltal route in Ganderbal district. It concludes in August, coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.