SRINAGAR: The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board met here today under the chairmanship of Mr. N. N. Vohra, Governor, who is Chairman of the Board. The CEO of the Board, Shri Rakesh K. Gupta, made a detailed item-wise presentation on each of the important aspects of Yatra 2014, highlighting the initiatives taken for bringing about progressive improvements in the logistical and other arrangements for the pilgrimage.
Those present in the meeting included the Board Members, H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Mr. Justice (Retd) G. D. Sharma, Dr. (Prof.) Ved Kumari Ghai, Ms. Sunita Narain and Mr. Vijay Dhar. Besides, Mr. Rakesh K. Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of the Board, and Mr. Preet Pal Singh, Additional CEO, attended the meeting.
Besides the agenda items, the Board also discussed the law and order incident which occurred at Baltal on 18th July 2014, consequent to ascertain rumors having been circulated about an incident on the previous night which had been settled amicably. The Board expressed grave concern over the most regrettable happenings, which had also resulted in considerable loss of property. The Board desired that the CEO should have in depth discussions with the District and Divisional Administration to identify the measures which need being taken to ensure against such reoccurrences in future.
The Board took note and appreciated the various steps taken to clear the snow from the Pahalgam axis and at the site of Sheshnag Camp and the difficult circumstances in which the pilgrimage was started on this route.
The Board was briefed about arrangements for cleaning of Camps and tracks in the Yatra area, Operation and Maintenance of Sewage Treatment Plants at Baltal and Nunwan Base Camp, and maintenance of sanitation of toilet and bath units. Referring to the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) technology based bio-digestors installed by the Board at the Holy Cave on pilot basis, last year, the Chairman asked the CEO to assess the efficacy of the Bio-digestor toilets, in collaboration with scientists from DRDO, and prepare a very early report.
The Board was informed that for this year’s Yatra, the registration of pilgrims through designated Banks was commenced as early as 1st March and that the network of advance registration outlets had been increased to 426 Bank branches across 29 States and Union Territories, against 422 counters in 26 States and Union Territories during Yatra 2013. The Board noted that counters had been timely set up at Jammu and Srinagar for facilitating the On-spot Registration of pilgrims.
The Board was informed that till last evening 2,51,373 pilgrims had secured Advance Registration for undertaking the pilgrimage while 1,15,689 Yatris had availed On-spot Registration facility and, further, that upto 27th July evening, 3,41,349 pilgrims had actually performed Darshan at the Holy Cave Shrine.
The Board noted the initiative taken to install CCTV Cameras with timers and facility for counting persons at Access Control Gates at Chandanwari and Domel and linking them up directly with the Raj Bhavan via Internet, which enabled the Governor and CEO to daily monitor the movements of Yatris on real-time basis.
The Board was informed that the weather status is being reviewed several times a day with the help of the forecasts furnished by the India Meteorological Department. SMSs are being sent after every four hours to all the concerned authorities involved in the Yatra management to inform them about the weather forecasts, which has very significantly contributed to regulating the Yatra movements.
The Board noted that, for the best possible medical care services being provided to the pilgrims, 67 Medical Centres with doctors, paramedics, equipments and medicines had been established in the Yatra area this year as against 56 last year. As regards the casualties suffered by the Yatris in the Yatra area, the CEO informed the Board that, as per the data compiled by the Board officials, 37 pilgrims had lost their lives till 27th July 2014, 33 due to medical failures and four on account of accidents in the Yatra area.
The Board expressed deep regret over the loss of lives of pilgrims during the Yatra. The Board hoped that all potential pilgrims would duly take into account the harsh weather conditions in the high altitude region of the Yatra area, before embarking on their Yatra, and prepare themselves suitably.