'Amarnath pilgrims can stay in hotels'

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Srinagar, May 23: The Amarnth pilgrims will be totally free to stay in private hotels at Pahalgam during the two-month-long yatra, starting from June 18, Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) Arun Kumar said today.

Announcing the decision at a joint meeting of various departments and representatives of hoteliers, he said the yatris would be free to decide whether they wished to stay in hotels or in the Nunwan camp.

The hoteliers and other traders were protesting that their business was affected when the base camp was shifted to Nunwan.

He said it has been decided to regulate tourist and pilgrim movements to Pahalgam and to the base camp of the yatra at Nunwan.

The Serbal security check post would also be relocated near Nunwan and the usual tourist traffic diverted to Pahalgam via a circuit road.

Dr Kumar said the new plan of action was revealed under which a booth would be established near the check point to serve as an information counter regarding availability of accommodation in the picturesque valley for desirous pilgrims.

The CEO said with this measure, tourists from outside could visit Pahalgam even during the yatra period without any obstacles.

The measure, he said, would boost the occupancy of hotels even when schools reopen in the rest of the country after the summer vacations.

''We want pilgrims to stay anywhere they like. In fact, the Shrine Board is not averse to shifting of the Nunwan base camp to its traditional and ancient location of Sadhu Paraw, ahead of Pahalgam that will be beneficial for all, the hoteliers, craft dealers and local traders,'' Dr Kumar said.

He expressed the hope that the concerned departments would take initiative in this regard right from now.

UNI

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