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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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Chief Minister conducts aerial survey of Shri Amarnathji: restoration works resume after weather improvement

Pahalgam June 10- With the improvement in weather conditions, the restoration works and track clearance on both the routes to the Shri Amarnathji Cave Shrine have been resumed on war footing with over two hundred labourers engaged on preparing a by-pass track over the avalanche hit Mahagunas-Sheshnag sector.

Concerned about the security and safety of the pilgrims, in the context of the obtaining weather conditions and present status of the track between Pahalgam-Holy Cave, the Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah, early this morning, personally conducted an aerial survey of the entire track. He also had a brief halt at the Base Camp at Pahalgam where he was briefed on the arrangements being made for Yatra 2009 by the Chief Executive Officer of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, Mr. B.B.Vyas, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mr. Masud Samoon, and the Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Dr. B. Sriniwas, who earlier this morning had a detailed joint review of the situation at the Holy Cave and at both the Base Camps.

The Chief Minister directed the Divisional Administration to support all efforts of the Shrine Board to redouble efforts for clearing the tracks and putting in place all the requisite facilities and services, particularly electricity, drinking water, supply of essential commodities, medical and allied facilities before the commencement of the Yatra.

In his briefing, the Chief Executive Officer apprised the Chief Minister about the status of the track, various restoration works and creation of temporary facilities by the Shrine Board at the Base Camps and other locations enroute the Holy Cave Shrine.

Since the track clearance on the Chandanwari-Holy Cave route received a major setback in the wake of continuous rains and snowfall for three consecutive days, resulting in its closure near Mahagunus due to heavy accumulation of snow, the men and material of the Public Health Engineering and Power Development Departments from Pahalgam are now being sent via the Baltal route to restore essential power and water supply. The water stream near the Cave Shrine is still frozen and the supply of piped water supply to be put in position will take a few days.

While the free Langers are being established by the non-Governmental Organizations at several locations like Baltal, Nunwan and Chandanwari, those detailed for providing vital service of free food to the Yatris at the Holy Cave and Panchtarni, are still stationed in Baltal. Their movement towards their final destinations has been hampered by the rains and the snowfall. However, by yesterday afternoon, the track on the Baltal side has mostly been cleared and the work relating to setting up of pre-fab huts and toilets is in full swing. The Shrine Board has raised eight prefabricated huts and 50 toilets near the Cave besides five huts and 20 toilets at Panchtarni. The work on creating similar facilities at other locations like Panchtarni and Sheshnag is on.

As regards the facilities at the Base Camps, it is learnt that at both the places i.e. Baltal and Nunwan, these have been fully established. While a limited number of langars has started operating, arrangements are under way for setting up of tents and shops so as to make the Base Camps fully functional in the next few days.

The Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, entrusted with the responsibility of clearing the track from Chandanwari up to the Holy Cave, informed the Chief Minister about the early clearance of the route subject to weather conditions. He assured that efforts will be stepped up to restore the track in the critical Sheshnag- Mahagunus- Panjtarni sector of about 6 kms. which is still under heavy snow. In the meantime, the District Administration has set a time line of deploying its staff at the Sheshnag and Panjtarni Camps by June 14, 2009. The engineers and the staff deployed for the Yatra duty by the Shrine Board and the Civil Administration are already present at these Camps and closely monitoring the situation.

The details of the assessment made by the joint team of the Shrine Board and Divisional Administration, particularly with regard to the clearance of the track, will be placed before the Governor, Mr. N. N. Vohra, who is scheduled to undertake an aerial reconnaissance tomorrow to assess the ground-situation and take appropriate decisions to ensure that the Yatra is conducted with complete safety and security.

In the meantime, a Spokesman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has once again reiterated the Board’s earlier request to all persons intending to undertake the pilgrimage, to complete the necessary formalities for registration and, in their own interest, ensure proper registration before proceeding on the Yatra so that no avoidable inconvenience is faced by any Yatri with regard to the date of his/her Yatra and the route to be followed.

Click here to read more information on Shri Amarnathji Yatra.

Source: Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Department of Information, Press Note, June 10, 2009
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