The annual Amarnath Yatra which is scheduled to start on June 30 after a break of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to witness large participation of devotees who have started arriving in Jammu weeks prior to the 43- day pilgrimage from different parts of the country.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on June 23 reviewed the overall security arrangements for the pilgrimage in a unified command meeting in Srinagar.
The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary and senior security officers from the Home Department, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Indian Army, Intelligence agencies, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), and others.
The yatra will commence from twin routes - the traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir's Pahalgam and the 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir's Ganderbal.
The security along both the Baltal and Pahalgam routes has been strengthened with new security pickets being established to ensure that the subversive elements are not able to disrupt the pilgrimage, an official said.
At Baltal base camp, a 70-bed fully-equipped DRDO hospital has been set up for quality healthcare services to the pilgrims. The hospital, funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will have X-ray and ultrasound facilities, general and oxygenated wards, OPD, ICU, pharmacy, and a laboratory.
During a recent visit to the twin base camps, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said this year's special focus is on cleanliness and the board aims for a "Swachh Amarnath Yatra". "We have made provision of toilets all along the routes. We are very serious about the overall cleanliness," he said.
The first batch of pilgrims, including Sadhus, will leave for the twin base camps of Kashmir from Bhagwati Nagar and Ram Mandir in Jammu a day ahead of the official commencement of the yatra which will culminate, according to tradition, on the day of 'Raksha Bandhan' festival on August 11. "Around three lakh pilgrims have so far registered for the yatra," a SASB official said.
According to SASB, no one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years, and no woman with more than six weeks' pregnancy, are registered for the yatra.
The government, this year, is introducing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for pilgrims to track their movement en route to ensure their well-being.
RFID is a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers. Readers communicate information/identities of objects and people using radio waves. Tags can be encoded with information, serial numbers, and short descriptions.While the board is making arrangements for the pilgrims intending to undertake the pilgrimage, it has also made a provision of an online darshan for those who cannot physically undertake the yatra. "For the devotees who can not come for the Yatra, they can avail the facility of online darshan, pooja, havan, and prasad," an official of the SASB said.