Baltal- A Kanpur-based NGO has introduced free e-rickshaw services to make the final leg of the arduous journey of Amarnath Yatra comfortable for the pilgrims.
The e-rickshaws have been deployed to ferry pilgrims from Domail to the base camp at Baltal and vice-versa.
Having walked 24 km on mountainous terrain to and fro to visit the Holy Cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas, pilgrims are usually exhausted by the end of their journey.
After reaching the access-control gates at Domail, they have to walk another five km to reach the parking area of the Baltal base camp.
The battery-operated, environment-friendly e-rickshaws, deployed by NGO, come as a relief for the pilgrims in that regard.
While ponies are available for the purpose, the rides are chargeable. The e-rickshaw service, meanwhile, is free of cost.
Kanpur-based Shiv Sewak Samiti is one of the service providers of the e-rickshaw rides.
With the e-rickshaws, the distance, which otherwise takes about an hour, is covered in less than ten minutes.
Ajit Khokar, a yatri from Sonipat, availed the service and spoke positively about the service.
“It is my first time at Amarnath. It gets very tiring coming back from the cave, but getting the e-rickshaws is very helpful,” Khokar told PTI here.
He said since the vehicle is battery-operated, it helps the environment as well. “Whosoever has started this service, I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” the yatri added.
Five pilgrims are ferried in each ride and an e-rickshaw makes about 16-18 rides a day. “This e-rickshaw service is provided from Baltal to Domail. Five people are accommodated in a vehicle in a ride. The vehicle can take around 16-18 rides in a day. It is completely free services given to pilgrims from both sides,” Hrithik Kushwaha, an e-rickshaw driver who hails from Kanpur, said.
“I am very thankful for this service as this is very good for pilgrims. As when we come back after the holy pilgrimage at the cave shrine, we get very much tired. So, it is good that there is a free rickshaw service for this five km stretch,” Anil, another yatri from Sonipat, said.
“The environment is also taken care of very well as any other vehicle would have created a lot of pollution,” he said.
In a similar vein, another yatri Pradeep from Haryana, said the pilgrims get blisters on their feet by walking such a long distance on foot.
“Since we are very tired after coming back from the cave and we used to travel by foot for around four to five kilometres. Even we used to get blisters on our feet. But now we get free e-rickshaw services, so our problem has been resolved,” he said.
Sandeep Agarwal, a manager of the e-rickshaw service here, said the services were started last year as a test case. After their success, the number of e-rickshaws was increased.
“This is an eco-friendly service. Yatris are given free rides from Baltal to Domail and vice-versa. This service is given 24 hours,” Agarwal said.
The Shrine Board has provided space for a stoppage-cum-charging point to the service provider near the access-control gate at Domail.
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