Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board meets

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Srinagar: The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board met here today under the chairmanship of N N Vohra, Governor, who is Chairman of the Board. The half day meeting undertook item-wise review of all aspects of the ongoing Yatra and expressed satisfaction over the tremendous improvements brought about in the management of the pilgrimage under the Governor’s sustained direction. The Board also lauded the continuing initiatives being taken by the Board for the environmental protection of the Yatra area.    

Those present in the meeting included the Board Members, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Justice (Retd) G. D. Sharma,   Dr. (Prof.) Ved Kumari Ghai, Sunita Narain and Vijay Dhar. Besides, Navin K. Choudhary, Chief Executive Officer of the Board, and Mr. Preet Pal Singh, Additional CEO, attended the meeting.

The Board was very happy to note that for this year’s Yatra the registration of pilgrims was commenced as early as 18th March and, further, the network of registration outlets was increased to 422 Bank branches across the country, against only 276 counters during Yatra 2012.

It was also noted that counters had also been set up at Jammu and Srinagar for facilitating the On-spot Registration of pilgrims. The Board was informed that till last evening 3,20,968 pilgrims had secured advance registration for undertaking the pilgrimage while 99,203 Yatris had availed On-spot Registration facility and, further, that upto 5th August evening, 3,45,037 pilgrims had performed Darshan at the Holy Cave Shrine, which included 43,114 Yatris who travelled by the helicopter services from Baltal and Pahalgam upto Panjtarni.

Members expressed appreciation of the close coordination between the State Government and the Board which ensured that no Yatri without Compulsory Health Certificate and a valid Yatra Permit is being allowed to proceed to cross the Access Control Gates at Chandanwari and Domel.

The Board noted with high satisfaction the initiative taken to install CCTV cameras at Access Control Gates at Chandanwari and Domel linking them up directly with the Raj Bhavan via Internet, which has provided the Governor and CEO to monitor movements of Yatris on real-time basis every day. The Governor informed Members that, for the Yatra 2014, efforts shall be timely made to also put in place a system through which the counting of Yatris crossing the Access Control Gates at Chandanwari and Domel could be done automatically.

The Board Members appreciated the technological interventions being made for effective monitoring of Yatra movements. In this context, CEO was advised to take timely measures that the registration system for Yatra 2014 does not have any subsisting loophole.

The Board appreciated the initiatives taken for hosting all Yatra related information on the Board’s website for the benefit of the pilgrims. In this context, the Chairman asked the CEO to take immediate steps for formulating a vernacular version of the Board’s website which should contain all required information for the benefit of all interested persons and parties. 

The Board was informed that weather status is reviewed several times a day for which 6 Advance Weather Systems have been installed at Baltal, Nunwan, Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Holy Cave to provide timely warnings. With IMD’s help a mechanism has also been put in place under which SMS are sent after every three hours to the all concerned authorities involved in the Yatra management to inform them about the weather forecasts, which has very significantly contributed to regulating the Yatra movement.  

With a view to provide best possible medical care services to the pilgrims, 40 Medical Centres with doctors, paramedics, equipments and medicines have been established in the Yatra area this year as against 22 last year.    

As regards the casualties suffered by pilgrims within the Yatra area during the ongoing pilgrimage, the CEO informed that as on 5th August, 13 pilgrims had lost their lives, 12 due to medical reasons and one on account of accident.

As suggested by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Board decided to bring out an easy to read booklet, in Hindi and English languages, to enable better understanding of the Shri Amarnathji pilgrimage.   

The CEO made a detailed item-wise presentation on each of the important aspects of Yatra 2013, bringing out the initiatives taken for bringing about all round improvements in the logistics and other arrangements to facilitate the Yatris. He said that 5 Mountain Rescue Teams had been deployed during the ongoing Yatra to facilitate the pilgrims in the event of emergent situations and their number will be further raised to 6 next year. He stated that a comprehensive SOP has been adopted for Disaster Management and the Do’s and Don’ts issued by the Shrine Board have been adequately publicized through various media modes. He added that a Diet Chart has been formulated by an Expert Committee and the Langar organizations have been directed to serve food to the Yatris as per the prescribed food menu.

Referring to the measures taken for protection of environment of the Yatra area, Choudhary said that Sewage Treatment Plants at the Base Camps of Nunwan and Baltal have been upgraded and the required arrangements have been made for round the clock sanitation and cleanliness at the Base Camps and the Camps enroute. Additional toilets, baths and dust bins have been provided to keep the Yatra area neat and clean.

The Board expressed satisfaction over the measures taken to ensure progressive improvement in sanitation and maintaining of cleanliness at all Camp locations and along the tracks. In this context, the Chairman requested Sunita Narain to depute a team of experts to pay an early visit to the Yatra area, before the conclusion of the ongoing pilgrimage, to review the impact of the upgraded Sewage Treatment Plants set up at the Nunwan and Baltal Base Camps, assess the efficacy of the Bio-digester toilets set up at the Holy Cave on pilot project basis and, besides, to take stock of the sanitation 

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