Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Helicopter sorties being increased in Amarnath Yatra

SASB to deploy Addl Secy, SP level officers at all camp locations this year

 In order to ensure better facilities to the pilgrims and smooth conduct of annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine situated in the Himalayan range in the South Kashmir, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has decided to deploy Additional Secretary and Superintendent of Police (SP) rank officers at all the eight camp locations and increase the number of helicopter sorties with slashed rates during the annual pilgrimage this year. Moreover, 100 Post Offices and 21 more branches of Yes Bank will provide registration facilities to the pilgrims across the country besides the already identified 100 branches of J&K Bank and 25 of Yes Bank.

This was disclosed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Navin Choudhary in an exclusive interview to EXCELSIOR. "Since better coordination between all the agencies is imperative for smooth conduct of annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Shri Amarnath, it has been decided to deploy senior level officers of civil as well as police administration at all the camp locations this year", he said.

"Unlike last year arrangements whereby senior civil officers were coordinating from only Pahalgam, Baltal and cave area, the Board has decided to deploy Additional Secretary level officers of the civil administration and SP rank officer of Police administration at all the eight camp locations which include Holy Cave area, Panjtarni, Sheshnag, Baltal, Chandanwari and Poshpatri for enhanced coordination in civil as well as security matters", he informed, adding "apart from this, senior Shrine Board officers will be supervising the arrangements at all the locations for smooth conduct of pilgrimage and to ensure that pilgrims don’t face any sort of problem".

Responding to a question regarding helicopter service, the CEO of the Shrine Board said, "since the demand of air service is increasing every year, it has been decided to increase the number of sorties this year", adding "even the rates of the chopper service are being made more reasonable so that large number of pilgrims could avail this facility. The final decision in this regard is likely within a day or two".

Regarding the complaints during last year’s yatra about over-charging for chopper service, Navin Choudhary said, "though there is a transparent system in this regard yet the possibility of some pilgrims having been overcharged cannot be ruled out", adding "if any such complaint will come to the notice of Shrine Board, action will certainly be taken". He further said that since 50 per cent tickets remain available on-line, there are very little chances of over-charging.

About the registration facilities, the CEO said, "last year registration facility was available in 100 branches of Jammu and Kashmir and 25 of Yes Bank but this year the Board has decided to make this facility available at more places", adding "talks are going on with the Department of Posts for providing registration facility in 100 Post Offices across the country besides 21 more branches of Yes Bank".

Stating that final decision vis-à-vis 100 Post Offices would be taken within next one week, he said, "majority of these Post Offices will be in those area where there are neither J&K Bank nor Yes Bank branches, which have been identified for registration of pilgrims". With this, the registration facility would be double as compared to last year much to the benefit of intending pilgrims.

About the duration of yatra, Navin Choudhary said that it depends upon two major factors—date of Raksha Bandhan and track situation. "Though decision regarding 60 days yatra was taken several times in the past yet practically it could not continue for complete two months because of weather and track conditions. Sometimes it got delayed from Baltal and sometimes from Pahalgam", he further said.

Stating that duration of yatra fluctuates with the changing of Rakha Bandhan date and during the past several years yatra is starting by ending June, the CEO of Shrine Board said, "this year duration of yatra will be 39 days. It will start on June 25 and conclude on August 2", adding "as per the calendar of next year, the duration of yatra will be of 53 days in 2013 due to changing of Raksha Bandhan date".

"Moreover, Sub-Committee headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and other eminent personalities has laid down guidelines in this regard and the same are being strictly adhered to", he said.

To a question, he said, "though massive snowfall was experienced this year as compared to previous year yet we will continuously monitor the melting of snow and if it melts faster we will start yatra prior to the finalized date", adding "Pooja will be formally performed on June 4 at a location where we would be able to reach to symbolize the start of yatra".

About the comprehensive report of the High Level Committee, the CEO said that report has been accepted by the Shrine Board as well as State Government, adding that some of the recommendations will be implemented before this year’s yatra and remaining before next year’s pilgrimage.

According to Navin Choudhary, the suggestions are relating to improvement of track, better provision of electricity, drinking water, better sanitation, shelter and gated complex at Chandanwari and Domel etc.

Regarding the implementation of directions of Division Bench of State High Court, he said, "we are already taking care of unfortunate deaths during the pilgrimage and will do our utmost in this regard", adding "we are also committed to provide railing at the vulnerable places for the convenience of the pilgrims".

He informed that around 500 oxygen gas cylinders would be kept at the camp locations for the convenience of pilgrims besides sufficient medicines. "We are printing pamphlets to provide information about do’s and don’ts to the intending pilgrims so that they don’t face any problem during pilgrimage".

No comments:

Post a Comment