Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2011 concludes
Over 6.35 lakh pilgrims pay obeisance
Srinagar (Kashmir), August 13 - The annual pilgrimage to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji concluded today on Shravan Purnima amid chanting of religious hymns in the spiritual ambience of South Kashmir Himalayas.
Mr. N. N. Vohra, Governor, who is Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, joined the special Pooja at the Cave Shrine and prayed for lasting peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the State.
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 Holy Cave situated at a height of 3,880 metres after a night halt at Panjtarni, the third and final halting station enroute the Shrine. Mahant Deependra Giri, accompanied by a large number of Sadhus, carried the Holy Mace, popularly known as "Charri Mubarak", and offered Pooja at the Shrine.
The Governor, expressing satisfaction over the smooth conduct of this year's Yatra, complimented all 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 experience for thousands of pilgrims who visited the Holy Shrine this year from various parts of the country, over the past 45 days. He had a word of appreciation for the close coordination which had been maintained between the Security Forces, the Civil and Police Administration, all the stakeholders, local population and the Shrine Board in ensuring a smooth and peaceful Yatra.
Mrs. Usha Vohra, First Lady and Mr. R. K. Goyal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, also paid obeisance at the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Before the commencement of the Yatra, on 29th June, 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 management on daily basis and personally reviewing the arrangements for the pilgrimage by visiting the Base Camps, Camps enroute and the Holy Cave. He had earlier issued strict instructions for launching a time-bound post-Yatra cleanliness drive at the Base Camps, Camps enroute and in the Holy Cave area for ensuring absolute cleanliness of the entire Yatra area. In this context, the Governor particularly visited Panjtarni and Sheshnag Camps today to personally review the results of the cleanliness drive launched in the Yatra area. Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of the sanitation measures, the Governor asked the CEO of the Shrine Board to ensure the disposal of all garbage by 20th August, so that the entire Yatra area is free from all solid wastes well before the onset of ensuing winter season.
Mr. R. K. Goyal, CEO, said that over 6.35 lakh Yatris paid their obeisance at the Holy Cave Shrine during this year's pilgrimage, which had commenced on 29th June, simultaneously from the Baltal and Nunwan Base Camps, ensuring equitable economic benefits to the local stakeholders residing in the Sonamarg-Baltal and Pahalgam-Chandanwari areas. He added that the registration process for the Yatra had commenced on 10th May, 2011, through 149 designated Bank Branches, located all over the country, as against 121 last year and, besides, through internet based e-Registration facility provided by the J&K Bank.
Referring to the various new initiatives taken during the Yatra-2011, Mr. 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 the two Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs), based on Eco-friendly technology/Biological treatment, at the Baltal and Nunwan Base Camps, yielded very encouraging outcomes. He added that the toilet/bath facilities were significantly augmented at Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Holy Cave Camps, with over 250 additional toilets. He further said that all the toilets were dosed with eco-friendly bacteria on daily basis, for decomposition of the faecal matter.
The CEO disclosed that like last year, all the registered pilgrims were provided free of cost Accident Insurance Cover of Rupees one lakh this year as well. 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 insurance claims of pony owners are being processed expeditiously and hoped that beneficiary Pony Owners would receive the insurance claim in the coming weeks, after completion of all procedural formalities.
Dwelling on other activities this year, the CEO stated that the helicopter services were made available on both Baltal-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni routes, at reasonable fares. 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 enhanced and 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 and Pahalgam Hotel Association. These collaborative arrangements were widely appreciated by all the stakeholders.
Mr. Goyal added that mobile phone connectivity had been made operational by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes of the entire Yatra area upto the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji this year 10 days ahead of the commencement of the Yatra, which not only enabled the Yatris to contact their families back home while undertaking the pilgrimage through mountainous tracks but helped a great deal in day to day management of the Yatra. The Board had also installed Digital Satellite Phones at the crucial Camps at Sheshnag, Panjtarni and the Holy Cave, which proved to be extremely useful for real time monitoring of the Yatra arrangements as also the movement of Yatris. He 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.
Despite repeated Advisories and issue of Do's and Dont's to the Yatris, the CEO regretted that as many as 107 Yatris lost their lives due to medical reasons, the prime among them being cardiac arrests and pulmonary failures. Mr. Goyal stated that the Shrine Board had provided all required financial help and logistical support for the medical treatment of those injured, for the transportation of dead bodies to various parts of the country, and in arranging evacuation, wherever required.