90 pc track via Baltal through, snow clearance not started on Pahalgam route

Repair works taking place on Pahalgam track to holy cave of Shri Amarnath Ji.
Repair works taking place on Pahalgam track to holy cave of Shri Amarnath Ji.

Uncertainty prevails over Amarnath yatra

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, June 14: Though no decision has yet been taken for the start of annual Amarnath yatra for the year 2021 by Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) till date, however the 90 percent clearance of snow from Baltal track up to holy cave has been done by the concerned agencies and work on the remaining portion is going on in full pace.
According to highly placed sources, the shortest track to holy cave via Baltal is almost through except snow clearance at one or two places and construction of two vital bridges for the facilitation of smooth yatra. But no exercise of snow clearance is going through the Pahalgam track which is the traditional and longest route to holy cave of Lord Shiva situated in deep Himalays at an altitude of 3880 meters in South Kashmir district of Anantnag .
Sources said 90 percent track via Baltal is through as the snow has been cleared from there. Besides, three helipads from Baltal to holy cave are also ready for landing of choppers carrying pilgrims as snow has been cleared from these spots also. Only a portion of track from Sangam to Panchtarni is yet to be cleared and it can be made through within a week or so, they added.
Sources said in addition to this, work on two vital bridges near Kali Mata on Baltal track is yet incomplete which will take some time for completion and there is every possibility of making the track fully through by June 28 the date from which the 56 days long yatra was scheduled to commence this year.
Sources said that work on wooden bridges, concrete path and breast walls is also in progress on the longest and traditional Pahalgam track through Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA). The wooden bridges have been constructed at various places up to Pissu Top. However, no snow clearance has been taken up in hand from this track till date, sources added.
Sources said the path is through for labour via Pahalgam track but not for pilgrims as the snow has not been cleared as yet. When contacted CEO, Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), Mushtaq Ahmed Simnani told Excelsior that routine works are going on like construction of bridges, breast walls and CC path where it was broken. He said he along with his official team visited Pissu Top today supervising the construction work.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner (DC), Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna today visited Baltal Sonamarg to have firsthand appraisal of arrangements being put in place from Baltal to holy cave.
She inspected various arrangements including provisions of drinking water, power supply, medicare facilities, snow clearance on track, availability of firewood, etc. being put in place from Baltal base camp to holy cave.
While inspecting the facilities at Baltal base camp, the DC directed the concerned to install good quality toilets in requisite numbers, efficient drainage system with well laid paths and proper sanitation besides, provision for adequate parking facilities with proper lighting.
While inspecting arrangements at holy cave and en-route, the DC stressed upon the officers for putting up all efforts for smooth conduct of Yatra 2021.
She was accompanied by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Farooq Ahmad Baba, CMO Executive Engineer Jal Shakti, and representatives of other line departments.
It may be recalled that 56 day long yatra was to commence from Jesht Purnima falling on June 28 to August 22 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals as per the earlier schedule of SASB. The online registration of yatra was started on April 1 and later suspended on April 18 after the alarming spurt in COVID cases all over the country creating panic among the people due to which uncertainty and confusion prevailed on conducting the annual Amarnath yatra this year also with the result the SASB could not clear its stand over holding of the pilgrimage.
As the confusion prevailed in the conducting of this year’s pilgrimage, there is lot of resentment in Shri Amarnath Barfani Langars Organisation (SABLO) over the uncertainty created by SASB about this year’s annual pilgrimage. The president and general secretary of the SABLO, Vijay Thakur and Rajan Gupta respectively have urged the SASB to take the decision on conducting the yatra immediately after implementing the COVID protocol as is done in Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji pilgrimage. They said any delay in this regard will put langer people in lot of difficulty to arrange the installation of langers for pilgrims during this yatra.