The Shravan Purnima, which coincides with the Raksha Bandhan, witnessed serene religious fervour with the arrival of the Holy Mace of Lord Shiva at the
The Governor, N. N. Vohra, who is also the Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, was scheduled to visit the Holy Cave this morning along with R. K. Goyal and Saugat Biswas, the Chief Executive Officer and the Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, respectively, but could not do so owing to heavy rains and inclement weather conditions.
The Governor, expressing satisfaction over the smooth conduct of this year’s Yatra, complimented each of the concerned Departments of the State Government, Army, CRPF, BSF, State Police, BSNL, J&K Bank, and all other concerned organizations, and particularly the people of the State for making the Yatra a satisfying and memorable experience for thousands of pilgrims, who visited the Holy Shrine this year from various parts of the country, over the past 55 days. He had a special word of praise for the close synergy between the Security Forces, the Civil and Police Administration, all the stakeholders, the local population and the Shrine Board in ensuring a hassle free Yatra.
Before the commencement of the Yatra, on 1st July, and during the past 54 days, the Governor had undertaken aerial reconnaissance of both the Yatra routes and visited all the Camps on several occasions. As Chairman of the Shrine Board the Governor has been monitoring all important aspects of the Yatra on daily basis and personally reviewing the arrangements for the pilgrimage by visiting the Base Camps, Camps enroute and the
R. K. Goyal, Principal Secretary to the Governor and CEO of the Shrine Board, said that over 4.50 lakh Yatris paid their obeisance at the Holy Cave Shrine during this year’s pilgrimage, which had commenced on 1st July simultaneously from the Baltal and Nunwan Base Camps, ensuring equitable economic benefits to the local stakeholders residing in the Baltal and Pahalgam areas. He added that the registration process for the Yatra had commenced on 5th June, 2010, through 121 designated branches of the J&K Bank, located all over the country, as against 103 outlets last year.
Referring to the various new initiatives taken during the Yatra-2010 to facilitate the visiting pilgrims, Goyal said that the Shrine Board has been according very high priority to the implementation of sanitation and related measures for the preservation of the environment at the Base Camps and at all the locations enroute the Cave Shrine, along both the Yatra routes. He recalled that in 2009 several measures were initiated, including the setting up of the two Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs), based on Eco-friendly technology/Biological treatment, at the Baltal and Nunwan Base Camps, both of which were technologically upgraded this year. He said that as part of several new initiatives taken by the Board, this year, all the registered pilgrims were provided free of cost Accident Insurance Cover of Rupees one lakh. In Yatra-2009, a Yatri seeking an accident insurance cover was required to pay Rs. 24 at the time of registration for the Yatra. He said that the accidental insurance cover was also provided, with the support from the State Government, to all the registered labourers deployed during the Yatra, as well as for the pony owners, in case their horse/pony was involved in an accidental death. This scheme was aimed to benefit about 20,000 labourers and 7,000 pony owners, almost all of whom belonged to the economically weaker sections of the society. He disclosed that more than 30 cases of insurance claims have been received from the concerned pony owners; an amount of Rs. 20,000 is paid to the concerned pony owners in all cases in which the claim is accepted.
Dwelling on other initiatives taken this year, the CEO stated that the helicopter services were made available on both Baltal-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni routes on substantially lower rates as compared to the Yatra-2009. The CEO added that, at the instance of the Governor, several steps were taken for the promotion of tourism industry in the J&K State, through equitable distribution of helicopter seats among the registered Tour and Travel Agents and their Associations (based at Srinagar and Jammu), Hotel Associations of Kashmir and Jammu Divisions, House Boat Owners Association, Pahalgam Hotel Association and J&KTDC. These collaborative arrangements were widely appreciated by all the stakeholders.
Goyal added that mobile phone connectivity for real time communication became available through BSNL for the first time, at the initiative of the Governor. Besides, the Board also installed Digital Satellite Phones at the crucial Camps at Sheshnag, Panjtarni and the
Goyal informed that a round the clock Control Room was established in the CEO’s office to monitor all movements and to particularly watch the weather reports. Because of the bad weather the Yatra was suspended on six occasions, on both the routes.
Despite repeated Advisories and issue of Do’s and Dont’s to the Yatris, the CEO regretted that as many as 61 Yatris lost their lives due to medical reasons, the prime among them being cardiac arrests and pulmonary failures. In all, 11 Yatris died in tragic accidents, on the way to and on return from the Yatra. Goyal stated that in each and every case the Shrine Board provided all required financial help and logistical support for the medical treatment of those injured, in the transportation of dead bodies to various parts of the country and in arranging evacuation, wherever required.