Measures for managing increasing pilgrimage to Shri Amarnathji & Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji.
Srinagar (Kashmir), August 12 – Mr. N. N. Vohra, Governor, has emphasized the need for undertaking long term measures for effectively managing the progressively increasing pilgrimage to the Holy Cave Shrines of Shri Amarnathji and Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji. The Governor was speaking after releasing a Souvenir titled "Pratyavigya", brought out by the Baba Amarnath and Budha Amarnath Yatri Niyas at a function held at Zeshta Devi Temple Complex here last evening.
The Governor, who is the Chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, observed that this year over 6.33 lakh Yatris would have paid obeisance at the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji by 13th August 2011. The number of pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi had increased by over 8 lakh till a few days ago and the total number may approximate the 10 million mark by end 2011. In this context, the Governor stressed that there is need for most careful planning, by all the stakeholders, for providing adequate facilities, including accommodation, transportation, medical care and sanitation, other necessary services to the progressively increasing number of Yatris to the two important Shrines in the State. He added that a good number of the pilgrims, as well as the tourists, could be encouraged to visit other places of religious and tourist importance in the State, provided adequate infrastructure facilities are developed for catering to such numbers.
The Governor said that in the Amarnathji Yatra 106 pilgrims had lost their lives this year, almost all of them due to medical reasons, and stressed that the safety and security of the pilgrims continues to remain the prime concern of the Shrine Board. He observed that the tracks to the Holy Cave pass through a very difficult terrain in the high mountains, experiencing hostile and unpredictable climatic conditions and that these aspects have to be kept in view while planning the future Yatras.
Referring to the Sub-Committee which was recently set up by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) under the chairmanship of H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Member of SASB, to advise the Board regarding the duration and schedule of the Shri Amarnathji Yatra from Yatra-2012 onwards, the Governor observed that he has requested Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji to convene the first meeting of the Sub-Committee in Jammu so that all the interested socio-religious organizations and the office bearers of the BABA Yatri Niyas could conveniently meet and present their views before this Committee. He said that the recommendations of the Sub-Committee are likely to become available by end December this year and the preparations for the Yatra-2012 will commence immediately after SASB has taken the required decisions.
Referring to recent discussions with the Revenue Minister, the Governor said that if a well located piece of land becomes available it could be utilized for setting up an adequately large Complex to provide accommodation and facilities for toilets, baths, messing etc for the Yatris. He stressed the need for setting up of adequate low priced accommodation facilities along the National Highway, between Jammu and Banihal, for the benefit of the Yatris who may be required to halt for the night on account of varied unforeseen circumstances, including adverse weather conditions beyond Banihal.
Referring to a suggestion from BABA Yatri Niyas that the SASB should take over the responsibility for managing the pilgrimage to Baba Budha Amarnathji, the Governor observed that a decision on such a proposal shall require careful consideration of all related aspects and consultations with all the stakeholders. He observed that for the progressive development of religious tourism in the State the managers of the pilgrimages would need to implement a time bound plan for establishing the required infrastructural facilities for the pilgrims. He said that he had, along with his Principal Secretary, Mr. R. K. Goyal, visited Budha Amarnathji earlier this year, adding that a Dharamshala could be constructed at Mandi for the Yatris visiting Budha Amarnathji provided BABA Yatri Niyas could deliver a suitable piece of land to the Board, free from all encumbrances.
Earlier on arrival at the function, the Governor was received by Mr. Surender Mohan Aggarwal, President, Mr. Dineshwar Singh Jamwal, General Secretary and other officer bearers of the BABA Yatri Niyas.
In his welcome address, Mr. Surender Mohan Aggarwal, President, BABA Yatri Niyas, complimented the Governor and the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board for smooth conduct of Shri Amarnathji Yatra this year. Mr. Aggarwal said that the Yatri Niyas is deeply committed to support the Shrine Board's initiatives to bring out progressive improvements in the management of future Yatras.
Mr. Subhash Chowhan, Secretary, BABA Yatri Niyas, Delhi, spoke on the theme of role of pilgrimages in J&K.
Dr. Lalit Bihari Goswami, Editor of the Souvenir, threw light on the contents of the publication.
Mr. Karan Singh Charak, General Secretary, BABA Yatri Niyas, presented a Vote of Thanks. Mr. Dineshwar Singh Jamwal and Mr. Rajesh Pandey also spoke on the occasion.
Mr. R. K. Goyal, Principal Secretary to the Governor and Chief Executive Officer of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, Dr. Ramakant Dubey, President, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, J&K State, Mr. Atul Gupta, representative, Baba Amarnath and Budha Amarnath Yatri Niyas, Delhi Unit, Mr. Ved Prakash, President, Dogra Brahmin Pratinidhi Sabha, Jammu, Mr. Jagdish Sharma of Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Jammu, Mr. B. B. Bhat, President of Zeshta Devi Prabandhak Committee, members of Yatri Niyas and several prominent citizens were present on the occasion.