Srinagar: To avoid any confrontation with Hindu organisations, the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has set up a sub-committee to decide the duration of next annual pilgrimage to the holy shrine, situated at 13,500 feet in south Kashmir Himalayas.
As the SASB reduced the duration of this year pilgrimage to 46 days from two months, a number of Hindu organisations lodged their strong protest and threatned to start agitation in Jammu and other parts of the country.
However, it was only when two members of these organistions were taken to Sheshnag in a helicopter by the SASB to perform puja with snow everywhere, the protest threat was withdrawn and the yatra commenced as per the government schedule on June 29.
To involve all stakeholders and avoid any confrontation with the SASB, in a significant decision, decided to set up its Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, member of the board, to advise the board on duration and schedule of the pilgrimage from next year onwards.
The other members of the Sub-Committee would be Swami Avdheshanandji Maharaj, Joona Peethadishwar, Haridwar; Dr Chandermouli Raina, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan; Jammu; Prem Gupta, IPS (Retd), Jammu; R L Bharti, IFS (Retd), Jammu; Y V Sharma, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jammu; and R K Goyal, Chief Executive Officer, Shrine Board, as its member secretary.
The Board has further decided that the Chairman of the Sub-Committee may co-opt any other suitable person, who has knowledge and experience in the area of religious traditions and practice, security, management, environment protection and any other relevant area.
The Sub-Committee is likely to commence its work in the first week of September and submit its recommendations to the board by December 15.
The Sub-Committee would hear all interested parties. Governor and SASB chairman N N Vohra reviewed the status of the ongoing yatra at a meeting and expressed satisfaction over the management of the pilgrimage.
The Governor informed the board members about the approaches adopted for the management of yatra-2011 to ensure that all required logistical facilities and arrangements were put in place timely at the base camps, camps enroute and at the holy cave to facilitate the yatris.
The new initiatives for improving the management of the yatra include increasing the number of registration counters from 121 to 149, provision of accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh for every registered yatri, at the cost of the Board, accidental insurance cover to all registered labourers and the pony owners in cases where a pony is killed in an accidental death, as a welfare measure for the poor sections of the society.
The Governor thanked the Union Communications ministry and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for making available cellular phone connectivity at Baltal, Domel, Chandanwari, holy cave, Panjtarni and Sheshnag areas ahead of the commencement of the yatra.
He said this real time telecommunication facility had been extremely useful for the pilgrims and enabling effective Yatra management.
The Board has also set up Digital Satellite Phones during the yatra this year at the crucial camps at Sheshnag, Panjtarni and holy cave. The facility have proved extremely useful in monitoring the yatra arrangements, he added.
Mr Vohra said the board’s efforts had materialised because of the ready support extended by the state government, the security forces and, more particularly, the Valley people towards the smooth conduct of the yatra. (UNI)