Neglected Shrines

If official neglect and indifference coupled with non fulfilment of the provisions of the requisite mandate given to the official caretakers are to be symbolically seen, Shiv Khori and Mata Sukrala- Mata BalaSundri Shrines in Reasi and Kathua districts respectively, are the appropriate examples. There is otherwise a due and legal provision for looking after these shrines of historical importance, besides being as spiritual tourism destinations for thousands of devotees in the form of (Developmental) Shrine Boards which were constituted several years back. There are pressing developmental issues related to these shrines which have remained unresolved all these years.
It is not that ‘Excelsior’ has not raised pertinent questions about the efficacy of the constituted Shrine Boards for the development of these shrines and the areas around but even after raising our concern last year on the subject , we find nothing practically having been done in the matter which is a cause of concern. Facilities for the convenience of the pilgrims continue to suffer due to utter indifference by the Shrine Boards and practically all developmental activities about the shrines and adjoining areas continue to be suffering which speaks about the levels of the otherwise expected “efficient” management, maintenance and administration of the shrines.
When an entity is accorded a legal face and full backing and recognition, it leaves little doubt about its expected functioning and perhaps on these very lines and on premise, the Shrine Boards were constituted for these holy shrines by Acts of the State legislature . It was expected that these shrines would get proper care and repairs, maintenance, innovations and attractive ambiance including their endowments, lands and buildings attached but the entire picture is discouraging in that nothing practically appears to have been done. The extent of neglect and virtual dereliction of acts of feeling responsible for the jobs entrusted, it is pertinent to note that these Boards have not formally met during the last quite some long time. It is a natural corollary that when you do not even meet, how can the status of the works if any, initiated anywhere in and around these shrines, could be known about.
The position should have not been so gloomy keeping in view the fact that these Shrine Boards are headed by the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu but when even a meeting of these Boards does not take place even after three years at a stretch, it can safely be assumed that whether Boards or no Boards, position in respect of these shrines with so much of a fame and importance, was not going to change for anything better. One encouraging aspect of the entire story is, however, that Deputy Commissioners of Reasi and Kathua districts have occasionally been giving briefing about the developmental issues to the Divisional Commissioner but never have more than seven members participated in any meeting for three years to transact any meaningful business . Pilgrims suffer and they make their own arrangements or cut short their visits in the absence of basic facilities at these shrines which is a matter of concern and indignation. Boarding and lodging facilities are nonexistent at these shrines and the approach and the general environment near these shrines being in dire need of the attention of the authorities, continue to be in inertia. The Governor is requested to intervene and either ensure that these shrines are looked after and maintained properly or the Boards must be wound up and these shrines brought under the ambit of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine.