Development, other issues of Shiv Khori, Sukrala Mata shrines remain unresolved

No meeting of Boards convened during past over 2 years

Conceived long time back, vital projects still on papers

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 21: Several development and other issues relating to Shiv Khori and Mata Sukrala-Mata Bala Sundari shrines in Reasi and Kathua districts have remained unresolved during the past quite long time as the Boards constituted several years back have failed to perform strictly as per the mandate given by the State Legislature.
The Boards for these revered shrines were constituted as per the provisions of the Acts enacted by the State Legislature for better management, administration and governance of these religious places and their endowments including the lands and buildings attached, or appurtenant, to the shrines.
Headed by Divisional Commissioner Jammu, these Shrine Boards were supposed to provide all the facilities for the convenience of the pilgrims, undertake developmental activities concerning the shrine and adjoining areas and to initiate all possible steps for efficient management, maintenance and administration of shrines.
Keeping in view this mandate, these Shrine Boards initially took several decisions but follow-up action in a time bound manner was never ensured as a result of which several vital projects have remained on papers only despite lapse of considerable period of time, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“The non-serious approach on the development and other issues of these shrines can be gauged from the fact that these Boards have not formally met during the past quite long time”, sources said while disclosing that full-fledged meeting of Shiv Khori Shrine Board was last convened in December 2016 while as Board for shrines of Mata Sukrala and Mata Bala Sundari had last met in July 2017.
They further said, “no doubt the Deputy Commissioners of Reasi and Kathua districts gave briefing about the development related issues to the Divisional Commissioner in his capacity as Chairperson of these Shrine Boards a number of times during these years but that doesn’t serve the purpose as the Acts clearly state that no business shall be transacted at any meeting unless at least seven members are present”.
Disclosing that Shri Mata Sukrala Devi Ji and Shri Mata Bala Sundari Shrine Board has contributed nothing noticeable in respect of providing facilities to the pilgrims, sources said, “no step has so far been initiated to provide boarding and lodging facilities to the pilgrims and improve the environment near the shrines despite the fact that pilgrimage is increasing every year”.
“Even no efforts are being made to bring an end to the litigations on different issues including the rights of the Baridars pending in the courts during the past several years”, they said, adding “because of litigations even the funds in the shape of offerings received in these shrines from the pilgrims are not being put to use for the developmental activities”.
They disclosed that recently work to replace the damaged marble inside Mata Sukrala Shrine and improve the drainage system was started through the Roads and Buildings Department. “This is the only development which has been carried out by the Board ever since its constitution”, sources added.
As far as Shiv Khori Shrine is concerned, sources said, “no doubt the Board has created infrastructure to ensure hassle free pilgrimage but there is no headway on all the major projects which were planned several years back and given much hype”.
The cable car from Ransoo to Bhawan, helicopter service from Katra/Jammu, eco-friendly disposal of mule dung, plant for scientific disposal of waste being generated on the track and e-rickshaws are among such projects, sources said, adding “what to talk these major projects even Master Plan for base camp Ransoo is yet to be finalized by the concerned authorities”.
“The issues which were creating hurdles in execution of these vital projects several years back have remained unresolved at present also and had required seriousness been shown by the Board much headway could have been made till date”, sources said, adding “cable car and helicopter services are imperative for attracting thousands of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi pilgrims to Shiv Khori Shrine”.
They stressed that either Governor’s Administration should ensure that these Shrine Boards start functioning as per the mandate given by the State Legislature or consider bringing these shrines under Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board, which is managing the pilgrimage and providing all the facilities to the pilgrims in better way since past many decades.