Hot water for Amarnath pilgrims from this year
Amarnath, Kashmir, May 17 : For the first time ever, hot water would be made available to the Amarnath pilgrims at the base camp besides at Panjtharni, Sheshnag, Chandanwari, Nunwan and the holy cave shrine as well.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha, who is also the Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), took stock of the track clearance on the 13-km mountainous stretch from Baltal to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in Himalayas yesterday.
He climbed the steep high peaks on foot and horse-back, braving glaciers and chilly weather conditions and interacted with workers engaged in the clearance operations.
Work is at present on the track to make it possible for about 5000 pilgrims to visit the holy cave shrine daily.
Gen Sinha, accompanied by SASB Chief Executive Officer Dr Arun Kumar, gave an on-the-spot directions for raising rest shelters and toilets at every halting point.
Special arrangements would be made for women pilgrims. The Governor also ordered for keeping dust-bins in large numbers enroute the holy cave shrine.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has already imposed a ban on the use of polythene in the area during the pilgrimage.
Gen Sinha stressed on maintaining the ecology of the area and hoped that the SASB supervisory staff would periodically monitor the clearance arrangements.
He appreciated the pace of work on the track clearance and said that like the previous year, efforts were on to make the arduous and challenging journey of the pilgrims comfortable.
The Governor also discussed the arrangements made for providing clean drinking water, power supply and other essentials to pilgrims at every point.
At points such as 11,500-ft Brarimarg top, seven km from Domel and 6 km ahead of the shrine, the Governor discussed minute details of this year's pilgrimage with the SASB officials. He praised the locals for soliciting the services in making all the arrangements and said this would give a fillip to the state's economy.
Addressing senior officials of the Army, Civil Administration and the SASB, Gen Sinha called for coordinated efforts to make the pilgrimage a success.
He acknowledged the endeavours of all the departments in ensuring an incident-free pilgrimage during the past three years and hoped that with the active support of the locals this year's yatra too will be a grand success.
At Baltal, Dr Kumar briefed the Governor about the sites allocated for sheds and free 'langars (community kitchens)'' to be set up by various voluntary organisations from across the country.
He said the Board has drawn up an ambitious plan to provide suitable lodging facilities on reasonable rental basis at various points of the pilgrimage. Dr Kumar said appropriate measures were being taken to ensure sanitation of the camps and no compromise would be made on this account.
To streamline the pilgrimage, several other arrangements such as issuance of on-the-spot 'darshan (glimpse of Shivalinga)' slips were being made as per the past practice.
Briefing the Governor, SASB Development Commissioner I C Jandial said 600 eco-friendly prefabricated potable toilets with leach pits were being set up at Baltal base camp to meet the requirements of at least 5000 pilgrims a day.
For the first time, hot water facilities would be made for pilgrims at base camp while similar arrangements were being worked out at other places such as the holy cave, Panjhtarni, Sheshnag, Chandanwari and Nunwan camps.
Mr Jandial said the prefab-insulated cabins of high standard were being put up with attached toilets and heating facilities for pilgrims at all the camps.
About 500 workers were at present engaged with track clearance on war-footing and carrying stores to advance points, he said, adding these would be in place well before the commencement of the pilgrimage.
Earlier, the Governor performed 'puja' at the holy cave shrine and prayed for peace and tranquility in the state.