SMVDSB to set up 4 halting stations, bifurcate entry & exit routes; track pilgrims with cards

High-powered Committee finalizes report with recommendations

Group System to be revived for better yatra management

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 10: Following New Year stampede at holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji in which 12 pilgrims were killed and many others injured, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) is reported to have initiated series of measures aimed at crowd control management including separate entry and exit routes for the pilgrims in the Bhawan premises, setting up of four halting stations enroute, revival of the Group System and tracking the yatris.
A high-level Committee headed by Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra and comprising Additional DGP Jammu Mukesh Singh and Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langar has also submitted report to the Government listing reasons behind the tragedy and making certain recommendations to avoid such tragedies in future.
Reliable sources told the Excelsior that the SMVDSB has initiated several crowd control measures post-December 31 night tragedy in which a dozen pilgrims were killed in the stampede while many others were injured.
The Shrine Board will be setting up four halting stations along 13 kilometres long Katra- Mata Vaishno Devi track for the pilgrims where the yatris can stay for some hours to ease rush at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan. The yatris can proceed further when rush declines at the cave shrine.
However, this process will be necessitated when there is heavy rush to the Bhawan. In normal yatra days, the halting will not be required.
The halting stations are proposed at Katra, Charan Padhuka, Ardh Kunwari and Sanji Chat.
“Even when there is no rush, the pilgrims can use the halting stations for brief stay on the track,” sources said.
In the days to come, sources said, the Shrine Board will be constructing track from the cave shrine to Manokamna Bhawan which will be used for exit of the pilgrims after they perform darshan at the cave shrine.
“The move is aimed at creating separate areas for entry and exit of the pilgrims within the Bhawan premises so that there is no scope of collision among the yatris even at the time of rush hours,” sources said.
There were reports that stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan on the New Year Eve occurred due to single track for entry and exit from the Bhawan.
Construction of the track will take some time, sources said.
The SMVDSB also proposed to revive Group System for darshan of the pilgrims.
“A particular number of pilgrims will be given one Group Number for performing darshan. The move will ensure that only those yatris, who are part of the running Group, will be in the queue while others will wait at different areas. Frequent announcements will be made about the Group number,” they said.
As per the sources, the Shrine Board is also planning to introduce tracking card which will be given to every pilgrim.
The card will keep track of the pilgrims which will help the Shrine Board to monitor the yatra for better management on the track.
Online registration has already been proposed for the pilgrims by the Shrine Board.
Only yesterday, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had briefed the Parliament about steps being taken for better yatra management post-December 31 stampede.
Rai said the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s high-level committee to ascertain reasons behind stampede incident at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine has taken many measures including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) based crowd management system, installation of additional CCTV cameras and more deployment of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF personnel at the Bhawan.
It may be mentioned here that stampede had occurred at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan premises on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 reportedly after some tiff between two groups in which 12 yatris were killed and many others injured.
However, the yatra was restored within few hours.