New Delhi: Union Home Minister on Friday said that the priority of the government is to ensure that the Amarnath pilgrims’ journey is smooth and directed the authorities to make adequate security arrangements along the entire pilgrimage route in Jammu and Kashmir. The Home Minister said this while presiding over a high-level meeting, where he reviewed the preparations for the Amarnath Yatra with top officials of the Central Government, Army, and Jammu and Kashmir administration. The 62-day annual pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath, located at an altitude of 3,880 meters in the South Kashmir Himalayas, to visit Baba Barfani will begin on July 1 and continue till August 31.
During the meeting, the Home Minister said that it is the priority of the Narendra Modi government that Amarnath pilgrims have a comfortable ‘darshan’ and do not face any difficulty. According to an official statement, he directed the officials to make elaborate security arrangements along the entire route of the Amarnath Yatra. Pilgrims travel through two routes in Jammu and Kashmir – Baltal and Pahalgam. It was informed in the meeting that all the pilgrims will be given RFID cards so that their real-time location can be traced and all will be given an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh. There will be an insurance cover of Rs 50,000 for each animal carrying the pilgrims.
Night flight service will be available from Srinagar-Jammu
Amit Shah stressed making smooth arrangements on the route from the airport and railway station to the pilgrimage base camp for the convenience of the pilgrims and directed to provide night air service from Srinagar and Jammu. The Home Minister also directed to ensure adequate stock of oxygen cylinders and their refilling and asked for the availability of additional teams of doctors. He directed to ensure an adequate number of beds and the deployment of ambulances and helicopters to deal with any medical emergency. Shah instructed to make proper arrangements for all necessary facilities including travel, stay, electricity, water, communication, and health for the pilgrims. He directed the deployment of machines to ensure a better communication system on the pilgrimage routes and to open the routes immediately in case of landslides.
Full care will be taken for the convenience of pilgrims
Along with this, tent settlements, Wi-Fi hotspots, and proper lighting arrangements will be made on the Yatra routes, it said in a statement. In addition, online-live ‘Baba Barfani Ke Darshan’, live telecast of morning and evening aarti at the holy Amarnath cave, and religious and cultural programs will be organized at the base camps, it said. Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Army’s Northern Command Chief Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, and Intelligence Bureau Director Tapan Deka were among the top officials present in the meeting. According to sources, such intelligence has been received that Pakistan-based terrorist groups may try to disrupt the pilgrimage. All the stakeholders of the pilgrimage have participated in the meeting and all issues related to the arrangements being made for it have been discussed.
This time 5 lakh devotees can reach Amarnath
Last year 3.45 lakh devotees visited Baba Barfani and this year this number is estimated to cross five lakh. Sources said that in view of the danger of any possible natural disaster, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has started identifying suitable places for the pilgrim camps. It may be known that last year due to heavy rains, 16 devotees died due to flash floods near the holy cave. According to sources, there is a possibility of aerial inspection by helicopters of the Indian Air Force to detect glacial phenomena and the formation of lakes in the upper part of the holy cave. Due to glacial events and the formation of lakes, the possibility of flash floods in the lower reaches increases.
Administration alert to avoid natural disaster
Sources said the aerial inspection was conducted only after the flash floods in June last year, but this time the exercise will be carried out before the start of the yatra and at regular intervals during the two-month pilgrimage. He told that aerial survey can be done by a team having expertise in remote sensing and satellite, hydrology, and disaster response. Sources said that in case of dangerous accumulation of water, contingency measures will be taken along the entire pilgrimage route, especially in the area near the Amarnath cave. According to sources, there is heavy snow on both the routes leading to the Amarnath cave-Baltal and Pahalgam and the Border Roads Organization (BRO) has been tasked to clear the snow by June 15.