'No pilgrims to Amarnath cave before Jun 18'

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Srinagar, May 8: Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has urged the civil administration and police, in particular, not to allow any pilgrim to visit the holy cave shrine before the commencement of the annual pilgrimage from June 18.

Last year, the self-made Shivlingam (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva) at the holy cave shrine melted early after a group of devotees and security personnel entered the main cave and touched the lingam before the official commencement of the pilgrimage and tampered with it. An official spokesman said a meeting was held by the Chief Executive Officer, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), Dr Arun Kumar, with the local police at the forward base camp.

He directed them not to allow anybody to visit the shrine before the official commencement of the yatra.

Dr Kumar also expressed the hope that the pilgrims would also desist from undertaking the pilgrimage before the scheduled day.

He called for close synergy between various agencies to ensure a smooth and regulated pilgrimage.

Dr Kumar, along with a team of engineers, also inspected the work on temporary pre-fabricated huts and toilets going on at Baltal. He said the helipad is being given a face-ift and a covered approach passage is also being put in place well before the yatra takes off. A ticketing counter and a reception centre are also being set up for convenience of the pilgrims intending to go by helicopter.

For a first, 50 European-style toilets are being added in the camp, while a modern frisking point will also be raised in the periphery, he added.

The Chief Executive Officer said clearance on the 13 kilometer track from the holy cave shrine to Baltal is apace with 100 local workers engaged in the job in shifts.

The entire Baltal valley is almost covered by snow.

He had a meeting with the locals also who are managing the housekeeping of shelter huts.

Dr Kumar emphasised that every possible step is being taken to ensure health and hygiene in the area with due focus on preserving the ecology.

He said the Board has geared up its field agencies to upgrade the facilities for pilgrims to ensure a smooth pilgrimage.

UNI

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