J&K prepares for Amarnath Yatra, 6 lakh pilgrims expected


Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam, on Wednesday, chaired a meeting to review the preparations and arrangements being made for a safe and hassle-free Amarnath Yatra.

The Chief Secretary directed the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu to closely monitor the arrangements that are being put in place in transit camps along the ‘Yatra’ route, particularly at Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur, Ramban, Anantnag, Srinagar, Baltal, and Chandanwari.

He tasked the administration to undertake the preparation works expecting a footfall of around 6 lakh pilgrims this year.

Ramping up the holding capacities of transit camps, accommodations for pilgrims, and the number of public utilities all along the route from Lakhanpur to the holy shrine and vice-versa; with special attention to arrangements in consideration of weather extremities, are some of the special areas of focus in the preparations.

The Commissioners have also been directed to enhance the holding capacity of transit camps under their jurisdictions to accommodate approximately 1.22 lakh pilgrims on a daily basis, including both the cave-bound pilgrims as well as those on the return journey.

The Chief Secretary asked the Commissioners to ensure the availability of basic amenities at these transit camps besides ensuring adequate provisions all along the route.

They were asked to project additional requirements of resources to the Tourism Department for timely approval.

To ensure the completion of various works and arrangements well in time, it was impressed upon to initiate the implementation of plans and projects from the first week of April.

The annual 56-day Amarnath yatra will commence on June 28 with all COVID-19 protocols in place, and culminate, as per the tradition, on the day of the Raksha Bandhan festival on August 22.

Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath Shrine stands at 3,888m, 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.

There are two traditional routes to the holy cave: Jammu-Pahalgam-holy cave and Jammu-Baltal-holy cave.

The latter is a 414-km long route. The first part of the stretch passes through valleys and waterfalls, while the second leg is a bit narrow and has steep rises and falls on the way.

According to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) last year the Amarnath Yatra was cancelled in view of the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Board in 2019, as many as 3,42,883 pilgrims had visited the holy shrine before the yatra was cut short after the Indian Army said Pakistani terrorists were planning to disrupt the pilgrimage.

The figure for footfall in the preceding year, 2018, was 2,85,006. (ANI)