‘Will reduce walking distance to 2 kms, yatra duration to go up’
*Puri announces 4 more Bhawans, work commences on one
JAMMU, June 6: Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri today announced construction of four more Bhawans for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims by ONGC and his Ministry in Jammu and Kashmir while Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha declared that DPR for construction of Chandanwari-Panjtarni-Sangam Top-Baltal road is in advanced stage and work on it will be approved and started during current financial year while the road will be ready in next 4-5 years reducing walking distance to holy shrine cave to just two kilometers.
They were speaking after performing Puja for commencement of construction work for Yatri Niwas and Disaster Management Centre of Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board at Majeen Sidhra on the outskirts of Jammu City this morning.
Puri said besides release of Rs 51 crore by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for Shri Amarnath Ji Bhawan whose work started today, the ONGC and his Ministry will facilitate construction of four more such Bhawans in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Manoj Sinha (Lieutenant Governor) took up with me the construction of four more Yatri Bhawans in Jammu and Kashmir. I approve the proposal here itself. Send me the proposal and we will clear it within two-three weeks. I have discussed it with Arun Singh (ONGC Chairman) and there is no dearth of funds,” Puri said.
Later, Manoj Sinha lauded the Union Minister for giving nod to four more Bhawans and said one of them will come up at Baltal and another near Walnut factory at the entrance of Kashmir.
Puri said India has jumped from 10th to fifth place in world economy under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and within few years it could be at No. 3. “I’m not saying this but it is assessment of the experts”.
He added that even before 2047, India will be a ‘Viksit’ (developed) nation.
The Union Minister expressed gratitude for being a part of “this momentous” occasion (puja for SASB Bhawan)
He said the Yatri Niwas will comprise 54 rooms and 18 dormitories.
Puri said the Central Government was ready to provide all possible support to build more facilities for the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
Earlier, Puri and Manoj Sinha jointly laid the foundation stone of an Amarnath Yatri Niwas and a disaster management centre here.
Addressing the function and later in a brief chat with media persons, Sinha said the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for construction of Chandanwari-Panjtarni-Sangam Top-Baltal road is in advanced stage.
“The project to be constructed by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is likely to be approved and work started during current financial year,” he said.
The Lieutenant Governor said the project is likely to be completed in four to five years and it will reduce walking distance to Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine to just two kilometres.
“Duration of the pilgrimage will also go up with construction of the road,” he said and added that pilgrims will come from across the country.
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Sinha said Jammu and Kashmir is now developing in all sectors like other parts of the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“There was heavy snow this year but the BRO men are on job and the tracks leading to Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine will be cleared before the start of the yatra,” he asserted.
On security issues for the pilgrimage, he said the administration is capable of handling all challenges.
Referring to the peaceful conduct of the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting last month in Srinagar, Sinha said the people of Jammu and Kashmir supported a lot.
He said a financial allocation of Rs 51 crore was received from the ONGC for the construction of the Yatri Niwas as part of Government-owned company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“I am immensely grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri for Amarnath Shrine Board’s Yatri Niwas at Jammu. This new facility will ease the lives of devotees embarking on annual pilgrimage of Baba Amarnath,” Sinha said.
Designed by School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, the Yatri Niwas is set for completion within 18-month time period
Sinha also said the Government was trying to “scale up the facilities including lodging, transportation, medical, and better connectivity for the safe and hassle-free pilgrimage of the devotees”.
Road connectivity is also being improved which will provide smooth passage to the pilgrims, the Lieutenant Governor said.
A complex has already been built in Chanderkote in Ramban district and more such complexes are being planned to ensure a smooth and comfortable pilgrimage experience to the yatris. The installation of mobile towers as well as the efforts of the Border Roads Organization (BRO) to prepare the track for the pilgrimage are also underway, he added.
“We are making dedicated efforts to strengthen communication connectivity. Telecommunication towers, Cell on Wheels (used to provides temporary network coverage to areas with limited cellular connectivity) are being installed by the telecom service providers. Army is laying an optical fibre cable from Sonamarg to the holy cave,” he added.
Last year, 3.65 lakh pilgrims visited the holy shrine, the highest since 2015. As many as 120 additional bank branches were added last year to facilitate the registration of pilgrims. Registration this year is being provided through 542 branches across the country, Sinha said.
He said the complex, to be built in the scenic lower Shivaliks range on the outskirts of the city, will accommodate 2,500 pilgrims at a time, adding that it will provide accommodation over 30,000 Amarnath pilgrims every year. It will help in traffic management and ensure a seamless experience, he added.
Bharat Bhushan, Chairperson DDC Jammu; Jugal Kishore Sharma, Member of Parliament; Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Arun Kumar Singh, Chairman, ONGC; Dr Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, CEO, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board; Prof. Vishwa Murti Shastri; members of SASB; senior officials of police and civil administration and a large number of people were present.