JAMMU, Jan 16: In a major setback to the ruling BJP, which had often been supporting two month yatra to Shri Amarnath Ji shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas, located at the height of 12,756 feet from sea level, Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board (SASB) today drastically reduced the yatra period to just 40 days this year.
An official announcement made by the SASB after its 32nd meeting in New Delhi said annual pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine would commence on June 29 on the occasion of Skandshasthi and conclude on August 7 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan.
“The yatra would last 40 days,” it said.
Governor NN Vohra, who is also chairman of the SASB, presided over the meeting.
The yatra has lasted 59 days (July 2 to August 29) in 2015, which was reduced to 48 days in 2016 (July 2- August 18). It has further been reduced to just 40 days in 2017 (June 29- August 7). In 2013 also, the yatra duration was 55 days (June 28-August 21).
The SASB announced that 7500 pilgrims would be allowed to proceed to the holy cave shrine everyday from each route (Baltal and Nunwan) totaling 15,000 per day. This means that a total of 6 lakh pilgrims will be entitled to undertake yatra during 40-day period this year.
Advance registration for the pilgrims will start on March 1, 2017 through 433 designated branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank, spread over 32 States and Union Territories.
The Board further directed CEO SASB PK Tripathi to advise the intending pilgrims to secure the Compulsory Health Certificate issued by the doctors /hospitals nominated by the State or UT in which he resides and only thereafter processed to seek Advance Registration from the nearest located designated Bank which would issue the pilgrim a Yatra Permit which is valid for his journey on the specified date and the specified route.
The Board called for timely steps for ensuring uninterrupted telecom connectivity during Yatra 2017. Appreciating the services rendered by the Langar Organizations during Yatra 2016, the Board expected continued cooperation from them during Yatra 2017.
The Board said the pilgrims should take into account the harsh climate and terrain in the high altitude region of the Yatra area and prepare themselves fully before embarking on the pilgrimage.
“As in the past the awareness campaign would be launched with the cooperation and support of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and CEO shall also place all information relating to Yatra on the Board’s Website (www.shriamarnathjishrine.com),” the SASB said.
Noting the Chairman’s direction to take sustained efforts to further improve the facilities to be provided to the pilgrims the Board reviewed the Action Plan, which has been drawn up for the conduct of Yatra 2017, particularly the arrangements being made for providing medical care, sanitation facilities, and installation of the railings at all vulnerable places along each of the two routes and the measures being taken to preserve the environment of the Yatra area by ensuring solid waste management and removal of garbage in a scientific and environment friendly manner. The Chairman directed the CEO to ensure that all the arrangements are timely in place well before the commencement of the Yatra.
The meeting was attended by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Dr. (Prof.) Ved Kumari Ghai, Pt Bhajan Sopori, Vijay Dhar, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, D C Raina, all Members of the Board. Besides, P.K Tripathi, Chief Executive Officer and Jitendra Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, also attended the meeting.