20,000-capacity lodgements being set up for Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu: Official

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir administration is making arrangements to create 20,000-capacity lodgements in the Jammu division for the upcoming annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, a senior official has said.

Jammu Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer said the 2020 and 2021 Yatras to the shrine situated at an altitude of the 3,880 metre were conducted on symbolic basis due to Covid pandemic, and this year the number of pilgrims is expected to be very high.

“The expected huge footfall will definitely promote tourism activities in the region which witnessed a lean period over the past two years due to COVID-19, Langer said, chairing a joint meeting of government functionaries and civil society members here on Friday to discuss and review the arrangements for the pilgrimage which usually takes place in the month of ‘Shravan’ (July-August).

The Divisional Commissioner said the administration is making arrangements to create 20,000-capacity lodgments.

A 3000-bedded yatri niwas has been constructed at Chanderkote in Ramban district by the shrine board and it will give a major boost to the lodgment capacity for pilgrims along the Yatra route, he said.

He said Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has introduced IT interventions to ensure the safety of intending pilgrims.

The board has decided to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for tracking movement of vehicles and pilgrims during this year’s pilgrimage to the revered shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, the officer said.

He said the RFID tag cards will be issued to all the pilgrims.

During the meeting, the participants suggested laying special focus on cleanliness of market areas, religious places and the city besides better lighting arrangements, more lodgment centres, and better control room services, an official spokesman said.

They suggested distributing pamphlets with information regarding tourist destinations in the districts of Jammu division at Lakhanpur the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir bordering Punjab, the spokesman said.

To make Yatra more comfortable for the pilgrims, he said the participants also suggested conducting the checking and tagging of vehicles only at Lakhanpur if the documents are complete and said there should be no further checking at any other checkpoint.

The participants advised for starting the chopper service from Jammu, permitting tourists to visit destinations of other districts and easing of the langer (community kitchen) permission process, the spokesman said.

They also suggested starting special vehicle services for Yatris to visit local tourist places like Suchetgarh border, Bahu Fort and Peer Kho, the spokesman said.

He said all the participants assured full cooperation to the administration for making the Yatra successful.

The Divisional Commissioner said the Yatra also pushes business activities in the region which have suffered a lot during the Covid lockdown.

“The tourism activities will also be promoted as many new tourist destinations have been developed in Jammu and peripheral districts, Langer said.

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