As many as 1,91,073 pilgrims have so far secured advance registration through designated branches of various banks for undertaking the Amarnath Yatra that will begin in 28 June in South Kashmir.
Governor NN Vohra, who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), reviewed arrangements for the pilgrimage on Wednesday and said as many as 17,208 pilgrims had obtained helicopter tickets until 12 June.
In another meeting held on Wednesday, security forces discussed arrangements and preparedness ahead of the the Amarnath Yatra. In a first in J&K, it has been decided that all vehicles for Amarnath pilgrims will carry RFID tag.
The Governor reviewed the status of all issues related to restoration of the tracks on both the routes and installation of safety railings at the various identified vulnerable stretches, particularly the Railpathri-Brarimarg-Kali Mata track. The Governor was informed about the logistical facilities being arranged for the Amarnath Yatra, particularly those relating to power, water supply and medical facilities in the entire stretch.
It was reported that Army, CRPF and police formations had started reaching the areas of the upper Yatra camps.
Umang Narula, Chief Executive Officer of SASB, said 529 new toilets (286 Indian and 243 European) and 100 bathrooms were being installed. During this year’s Yatra, a total of 2,750 toilets and 516 baths shall be installed by the board at the Yatra camps and en route, along with appropriate waste disposal facility.
To discourage the use of plastic bottles on the Yatra route, 52 stainless steel water storage tanks and dispensers are being installed at the Yatra camps and en route. For easier collection of used water bottles, the board is installing 80 bottle catchers at conspicuous locations along the Yatra route. The plastic bottles are brought down and shredded by machines at the base camps of Nunwan and Baltal.
The board will also propagate the use of cloth bags as an alternative to plastic bags. In order to keep the Yatra area clean and promote segregation of wastes into bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable at source, the board will install 1,465 colour-coded dustbins (293 yellow ones for medical waste; 586 blue dustbins for biodegradable waste; and 586 green bins for non-biodegradable waste), with pictorial signages.
The Governor also took stock of disaster management in the area.
In another major decision, vehicles coming to J&K for the Amarnath pilgrimage will be for the first time be tagged with Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), which will enable security forces to have real time information about movement and location of the vehicles.
This will ensure help can be extended to vehicles which may have broken down or are otherwise in need of any assistance.
A meeting in this regard was held at the JK Zone, CRPF Headquarters, on Wednesday. Officers of the JKP and CRPF in Jammu Zone were addressed by SP Vaid, DGP, J&K, and V.S.K. Kaumudi, Special DG, CRPF.
RFID tagging was considered necessary in view of the high threat perception due of a spurt in terror activities, particularly in South Kashmir, which is the hub of the pilgrimage. Last year, 10 pilgrims were killed in a terror attack.
Ashish Kumar Jha, Commandant and spokesman for CRPF, said the tagging facility would be made available in a special dedicated lane at Lakhanpur, the entry point from Punjab, for vehicles from other states proceeding on the Amarnath Yatra route.
The Bhagwati Nagar Base Camp in Jammu will be another major tagging point for the Yatra vehicles.
Tagging will also be done at taxi stands, bus stands, railway station and the airport at Jammu.