Jammu: The annual yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir will begin from July 2, the governing board today said.
The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board approved the pilgrimage this year for 48 days, while the duration was 59 days last year. The board, however, did not specify the reason for curtailing the duration of the yatra.
"The Board, keeping in view the foremost concern of safety and security of the pilgrims, decided that a 48-day Yatra would commence on 2nd July 2016, an auspicious day (Massik Shivratri) as per the Hindu Calendar and conclude on Shravan? Purnima (Raksha Bandan) on 18th August 2016", the Board's spokesman said.
Governor N N Vohra, who is the Chairman of the board, presided over the 30th Board Meeting in New Delhi. Those present in the meeting included its members Kapila Vatsyayan, Devi Prasad Shetty, Vijay Dhar, Sunita Narain,?Bhajan Sopori, D C Raina, and?Chander Mouli Raina.
Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar participated in the discussions via tele-conferencing. P K Tripathi, Chief Executive Officer of the Board and Jitendra Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Executive Officer, also attended the meeting. The Board deliberated at length on the number of Yatris who would be allowed to register, date-wise and route-wise, for this year's yatra, the CEO said.
Keeping in mind the present capacity of the tracks, available infrastructure in the yatra area and all other relevant considerations the board decided that, excluding yatris who would travel by helicopters on either route to Panjtarni, 7,500 pilgrims would be allowed to register for Yatra 2016 on per-day per-route basis, he added.
The Board noted the steps taken by the CEO to rationalise the distribution of yatra permits forms for advance registration of pilgrims through 432 designated bank branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, and Yes Bank spread over 32 states and Union Territories as compared to 430 branches in 30 states and UTs during the 2015 Yatra.
It also directed the CEO to take all required steps to commence advance registration of pilgrims w.e.f from February 29 for both the Baltal and Chandanwari routes. Reiterating that every yatri must obtain a compulsory health certificate (CHC) from the doctors/ hospitals nominated by the states and UTs before applying to the nearest located designated bank branch for getting a permit, the board advised the CEO to once again send out an appeal to all potential pilgrims to consult their doctors before embarking on the pilgrimage even after having obtained a health certificate some weeks earlier.
The board also directed the CEO to take timely steps for ensuring uninterrupted telecom connectivity during the pilgrimage and build awareness through campaigns. It also said the CEO shall place all information relating to the yatra on the board's website.