Pilgrimage touches 30 lakh
JAMMU, May 21: In a major step towards ensuring safety of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji pilgrims, who ride on ponies during pilgrimage, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMBDSB) has started free of cost service of helmets, knee and elbow guards for the yatris to keep them safe even if they had a fall from the ponies.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Simrandeep Singh told the Excelsior that the Board took this decision to ensure safety of the pilgrims as every week they had been receiving three to four cases of fall of yatris from the ponies, leading to injuries, some of them of serious nature and sometimes even fatal.
“We have purchased 600 to 700 sets of helmets, knee and elbow guards for the pilgrims, which will be issued to the ponnywallahs under proper receipts at the take off points of the ponies,” Simrandeep said, adding neither the pilgrims nor the ponnywallahs will have to pay for the helmets, elbow and knee guards, which will be given free of cost to them.
The helmets and guards will be sanitized after every two months, the SMVDSB CEO said.
“The wearing of helmets, knee and elbow guards by the pilgrims will help prevent injuries to the pilgrims even if they had an accidental fall during the pilgrimage,” he said.
The Shrine Board has also installed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking instruments in rice like chip on the ponies to keep surveillance on them through the track from Katra to Mata Vaishno Devi Ji shrine.
Singh said scanners have been installed at nine places on the tracks to keep data of how much poneywallahs were enroute or other places.
This, he added, will also help track the pilgrims, if any of them goes missing.
The RFID tracking is useful from security point of view.
Meanwhile, about 30 lakh pilgrims have visited the Mata Vaishno Devi Ji shrine this year so far.
The yatra was, however, down by about five lakh as compared to last year because of multiple factors including Kumbh Mela, terror attack, Lok Sabha elections and heavy snowfall in the months of January and February.