Governor Satya Pal Malik, on Saturday, laid the foundation stone of 5-storey Durga Bhawan that would every day lodge 4000 pilgrims free of cost at the Vaishno Devi shrine.

The building is being built at a cost of Rs 50 crore.

A spokesman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) said that the step was towards creating additional facilities for meeting the accommodation needs of the pilgrims who visit the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji.

Governor Malik, who is the Chairman of the SNVDSB, laid the foundation stone for reconstruction of Durga Bhawan in the Bhawan area. He electronically laid the foundation and launched the work on this 5-storey building on the sidelines of the 64th meeting of the Board.

Among those present on the occasion were Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,  BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to the Governor and Simrandeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board.

The building, with a plinth area of 14,800 square ft and covered area of 60,000 square ft is estimated to cost Rs 50 crore and will provide free accommodation facilities to around 4000 pilgrims every day by maximising space utilisation which will significantly enlarge the logistical framework for the pilgrims in the Bhawan area.

The new Durga Bhawan will have adequate facilities such as lockers, toilets, blankets, ready to eat snacks and beverages as well as provision of four elevators for vertical movement. This building will be earthquake resistant. The top terrace of the building will be at the level of the existing track of the Bhawan which will be covered with an aesthetically designed roof as an additional resting place.

The building will be the largest of the existing buildings at the Bhawan and will be almost twice the size of the old Durga Bhawan. The provision of separate exit track through this building has been kept as per the approved master plan which will be further connected to elevators for the convenience of yatris.

The reconstruction of Durga Bhawan is part of the approved master plan of Bhawan area which has been got prepared by the Shrine Board and the extended shrine area from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The construction of Durga Bhawan happens to be one of the four works of Master Plan Phase-I for 2021. It is pertinent to mention that the Master Plan seeks to achieve the target of ensuring maximum free of cost accommodation for yatris by 2031.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor directed the CEO of the Shrine Board to ensure speedy completion of the new Durga Bhawan so that the pilgrims start benefitting from this facility at the earliest. He also asked for ensuring timely implementation of various components of the Master Plan for establishing infrastructural facilities for the visiting pilgrims in a planned and holistic manner. He further directed that the building should have adequate provision for harnessing clean energy, recycling of waste water, setting up of STPs etc.