No development, issues unresolved as Mata Sukrala Shrine Board yet to be reconstituted

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  • Nomination of non-official members taking undue time
  • Launched last year, website mostly remains inaccessible

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 26: All major developmental plans are on the official papers only and grave issues continue to remain unresolved as Mata Sukrala and Mata Bala Sundri Shrine Board has not been reconstituted despite lapse of several years. Moreover, the official website of the Board, which was launched last year, remains inaccessible for most of the times for the reasons best known to the authorities concerned.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that more than two years have lapsed since the completion of term of previous non-official members of Mata Sukrala and Mata Bala Sundri Shrine Board but not much seriousness has been shown by the administration towards making the Board functional in real sense.
“In the month of February last year, it was claimed by the divisional administration that names recommended by Divisional Commissioner Jammu and Deputy Commissioner Kathua were forwarded to the Government for approval but till date no decision has been taken for unknown reasons”, sources said.
They further said that delay in nomination of non-official members is notwithstanding the fact that as per the provisions of Section 13 of the Shri Mata Sukrala Devi and Shri Mata Bala Sundari Shrine Act, 2013 no business of the Board can be transacted at any meeting unless at least seven members are present.
The official members of the Board are Divisional Commissioner (Chairperson), Deputy Commissioner Kathua (Vice-Chairperson), Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board or his nominee (Member) and Director Tourism Jammu (Member).
“Unless the Board is reconstituted all round development of areas around both the shrines cannot be ensured. Presently, the facilities for devotees at both the shrines are grossly inadequate as a result of which they prefer to stay at these shrines for brief period only”, sources said.
They disclosed that even a proposal was prepared for constitution of Tribunal for determination of rights and entitlements of Baridars, who are an important part of the shrines, but there was no further process on the same for unknown reasons.
“No doubt, the Kathua district administration and Divisional Commissioner take care of some issues of urgent nature but these shrines and adjoining areas can be properly developed only after detailed deliberations by the full-fledged Board as such inordinate delay in reconstitution of Board is unwarranted”, sources said, adding “there is a dire need for developing desired infrastructure and face lifting of the area”.
“The areas in and around both these shrines need to be equipped with the amenities for pleasant experience of devotees coming from different parts of J&K and other States of the country”, they further said.
As per the Act, Government can nominate two persons who have distinguished themselves in the service of Hindu religion or culture; one woman, who in the opinion of the Government has distinguished herself in the service of Hindu religion or culture or social work especially in regard to advancement of women and two persons who have distinguished themselves in the administration, legal affairs, financial matters and journalism etc.
As per the amendments carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 2020, non-J&K residents can also be nominated as non-official members of the Shrine Board.
Moreover, the website of Mata Sukrala and Mata Bala Sundri Shrine Board launched in the month of February last year by the then Divisional Commissioner Jammu remains inaccessible most of the times due to technical glitches but no sincere efforts have been made to rectify the same.
At the time of launch of the website, it was stated that it contains the information related to the history of the shrines, Mata Ki Aarti, boarding facilities near the shrine, online donations and other miscellaneous information and would be upgraded further in future.
When contacted, several official members of the Shrine Board admitted inordinate delay in nomination of non-official members and said, “only Tourism Department can shed light on this aspect”.