SOPs for yatra under new rules being prepared: CEO SMVDSB

Excelsior Correspondent

Jammu, May 17: While speaking in a video conference, organised by Jammu Region Chapter of PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, CEO of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Ramesh Kumar said that the Shrine Board is in the process of formulating SOPs for the resumption of the yatra once the lockdown is lifted even as the pilgrimage will start only when directions from Home Ministry are issued.
The video conference on the topic “Way Forward For Tourism & Shri Vaishnodevi Yatra Post Covid-19” was attended by Parvez Dewan, former Advisor to J&K Governor & former Secretary Tourism, Govt of India; K B Kachru, Member SMVDSB & Chairman Emeritus South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, PHDCCI National Vice President; Pardeep Multani, former National President PHDCCI; Anil Khaitan, Ajay K Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarover Hotel & Resorts; Garish Oberoi, former President, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India; Sujit Kumar Singh, DIG, Reasi-Katra-Udhampur Range; Navin Berry, Chief Editor Destination India Magzine; BITB Conclaves (Founder SATTE) Director Mallika Verma; PHDCCI ‘s Jammu Region Chapter Chairman Rakesh Wazir; Co-Chairman Rahul Sahai; former Chairman Vikrant Kuthiala; Kashmir Region Mentor Mushtaq Chaya; former Co-Chairman Jammu Kuldeep Gupta; Chairman HRAK Sham Lal Kesar; President, PHDCCI Convenor (Head) Reasi District Varinder Kesar; Convenor (Head) Patnitop Kushal Magotra; Press Club Katra President Rakesh Sharma; Gen Secretary Arun Kumar; Director Radisson Blue Jammu,Vikram Gupta; Director Ramada Jammu Siddhant Chowdhary; Amit Kumar and other.
CEO SMVDSB said that the Board is considering to undertake online registration of devotees while GPS-enabled systems are also under consideration to track pilgrims in real-time to ensure they adhere to social distancing measures.
Ramesh Kumar further disclosed that they are considering installing of door-mounted thermal scanning at multiple places enroute Bhawan while the bed capacity at free dormitories is being reduced temporarily to implement social distancing measures. He added that only family members, and not unrelated people, are going to be permitted to use the paid lodging to reduce the chances of the spread of the infection.
“Some other suggestions like reducing the seating capacities at Bhojanalaya (food court) and langars besides giving coupons to devotees with specific time slots to manage the crowds better, are under consideration,” he said and added that the lack of clarity on whether animals could spread the disease was yet another challenge before pressing in the ponies for ferrying pilgrims.
Parvez Dewan suggested for reduction in quota of Yatra to 33 percent for initial few months. He further suggested for restricting the yatra to some of neighboring States till the situation improves. “As we have 3 routes for this pilgrimage, the Yatra may be regulated for going on one track and coming on another,” he said and also suggested that inside the holy cave, cubical flexi glass should be installed for ensuring proper hygiene and social distancing.
Rakesh Wazir said that Vaishnodevi pilgrimage contributes vigorously towards economy of not only J&K but adjoining States as well due to this lockdown, 4 to 5 lakh have become un employed with a daily loss of INR 10-12 crores per day.
Pradeep Multani stressed that we must learn to live with Corona Virus, prepare ourselves for the new emerging global order which will be dominated by distancing , safety and hygiene issues.
Sujit K Singh suggested that initially only online registration of Yatra should be started, especially from areas which are falling in green zones of the country.
K B Kachru suggested that any plan of re-opening must be done keeping long term benefits and safety compliances in mind and for this we need to do ground level work to evaluate the things to get survive out from this unwilling pandemic situation.
Navin Berry suggested utilising this crisis to create the desired infrastructure and systems to provide a world-class experience for the visitors.
Anil Khaitan stated that while facing this pandemic we could make use of the hotel rooms for other purposes on payable basis. He further stated that connectivity to country will play a major role for reviving the pilgrimage tourism.
Shyam Lal Kesar, Mushtaq Chaya,Vikrant Kuthiala & Rakesh Sharma suggested creating a circuit of dedicated pilgrimage and other destinations which will create an asset for all time and also help in increasing foot fall of the pilgrimage tourists post lock down.
Rahul Sahai suggested for tapping natural resources and make this place tourist friendly. “We have here religious tourism as well as rich flora and fauna to showcase to the world by the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi ji so that we may have both home and international tourism coming here and continue our struggle for that,” he said.
Mallika Arora, Director PHDCCI, moderated the video conference.


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