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All set: Amarnath Yatra begins from Monday amidst very heavy security

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Delhi, June 29: The annual Amarnath yatra is set to begin from Monday as all arrangements, including security along the twin routes of Baltal and Pahalgam, for smooth conduct of the pilgrimage have been put in place, officials said on Friday.

The 40-day yatra to the cave shrine at an altitude of 3,880 metre in the south Kashmir Himalayas will commence from both the routes, they said.

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Largely all arrangements have been put in place, just some final touches are being given, they said.

The Army, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police have been tasked with providing security to the pilgrims and a multi-tier security arrangement has been planned for the yatra, they said.

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The security forces have begun sanitizing the yatra routes, they said, adding they have been asked to ensure optimum use of latest technologies and gadgets for securing the yatra.

The officials said that forces are not taking any chances especially in the wake of February 14 Pulwama suicide attack which left 40 CRPF personnel dead.

Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday warned officials against any complacency in the security arrangements for the yatra and directed them to strictly implement the standard operating procedures for the pilgrimage.

During his two-day visit to the state, Shah underlined the importance of the standard operating procedure for convoy movement and specifically stressed on timely dispatch of convoys.

Shah said that after the cut-off timings, barricades should be erected at suitable locations and no differentiation should be made between yatris and tourists.

Meanwhile, advisors to the Governor, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai and K K Sharma Friday visited Baltal and Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camps of the yatra where they chaired a high-level meetings with officers to take stock of the arrangements being put in place for the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage, the officials said.

At Baltal base camp in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, the officers apprised the meeting regarding the arrangements put in place by departments associated with the yatra for its smooth conduct.

The meeting also reviewed the status of completion of track upgrade works on the Baltal route up to the holy cave, improvements at access control gates, establishment of camps, shelter sheds, medical camps, labour registration, emergency operation centres (EOCs) at various locations, provision of drinking water supply, lighting, LPG, ration and medicine, the officials said.

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They said advisor Sharma directed the camp director and other functionaries to ensure effective sanitary arrangements in respect of the functioning of the toilet, bath units, clean bedding and the day-to-day cleaning of the camp areas.

He also directed different departments to work in coordination and synergize their activities for ensuring a smooth conduct of the yatra.

The Advisors directed senior officers to personally supervise the arrangements at all levels and put every effort for improvement with regard to safe, secure and convenient yatra, the officials said.

Later, the advisors visited the Nunwan base camp to review the arrangements.

They chaired a meeting wherein arrangements including drinking water facilities, power supply, healthcare, sanitation, food and supplies, firewood, issuance of permissions and other amenities for the annual pilgrimage were threadbare reviewed, the officials said.

The advisors directed officers from line departments to complete the arrangements at all the transit camps and halting stations before the commencement of the yatra. They also sought the action taken report on earlier directions, they said.

The officials said directions were passed that the waterproof broachers be prepared containing the details of facilities, helpline numbers and other useful information and circulated among the yatris.

Ganai and Sharma visited health centre at Nunwan to check medicare facilities for yatris besides interacted with Langarwalas to ensure the quality control of food services, the officials said.

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