Due to heavy snow,Amarnathji Yatra rescheduled to June 15: SASB

 

Srinagar,May 26  -In view of the accumulated heavy snow at various stretches of the Chandanwari-Holy Cave track, this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra has been rescheduled to commence from Monday, 15th June 2009, against the earlier schedule of 7th June.

A Spokesperson of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) on Tuesday said that the Governor,. N. N. Vohra, who is the Chairman of the Shrine Board, took this decision after undertaking an aerial survey on 24th May to personally assess the to-date situation on both the routes and at the Base Camps and after procuring inputs from all concerned agencies about the status of track clearance on both the axis of Pahalgam and Baltal. The Governor had undertaken aerial surveys of the tracks earlier also, on 6th and 8th May, to assess the situation before the earlier schedule of 7th June was finalized.

As a result of the intermittent rains and fresh snow falls on the ridges, especially in the areas adjoining the Holy Cave, Panchtarni, Sheshnag and Mahagunas Top, the pace of snow melting has been retarded this year. Consequently, the work on the clearance of tracks, particularly between Pissu Top and Holy Cave, has been hampered and delayed. The Mahagunas Top continues to be under six to eight feet snow cover and the Sheshnag Lake is still frozen. While the Pahalgam route up to Pissu Top has been made functional, the track on the Baltal side has been cleared almost up to Sangam.

To make up for the time lost due to the inclement weather, the efforts to conclude the work on the Pahalgam route have been further stepped up. On the basis of assessments made in the past two days, in consultation with various concerned authorities, it is expected that the ongoing work would be completed only around 3rd – 4th June 2009.

The Spokesperson elaborated that the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), which is entrusted with the responsibility of clearing the track from Chandanwari to the Holy Cave, is making all possible efforts to make the track fully functional on the most urgent basis. The SASB, which has the responsibility of clearing the track between Baltal and the Holy Cave, has taken elaborate measures to secure the targeted results. The Spokesperson further clarified that to sanitize the entire Yatra area, the Security Forces are required to be deployed and be able to take positions at their designated stations at least a fortnight before the commencement of the Yatra. Because of the weather and heavy unmelted snow ridges the Security Forces have not been able to cover both sides of the track and reach the Holy Cave to establish their camps at various points. He said that the CRPF personnel, deployed on the Yatra duty at the Holy Cave, were presently camping at Baltal as the movement of personnel and stores has been delayed due to bad weather and non-clearance of the track.

The Spokesperson clarified that the Amarnath Yatra is contingent upon a number of factors such as the timely opening of the traditional route from Chandanwari to the Holy Cave alongside the opening up of the Baltal-Holy Cave route; prior positioning of the Security Forces, the Yatra–related staff of the Board and the staff of the various concerned Government agencies; provision of identified facilities at various locations and, above all, the satisfactory clearance of both the tracks for ensuring the safe and secure passage of the pilgrims.

The Spokesperson also noted that the obtaining law and order situation in Punjab, particularly in regard to the mobilization of free langars, has been yet another unforeseen factor, particularly as dozens of trains passing through Jalandher have been cancelled or deferred. Keeping in view an on-the-ground assessment of all the above aspects, the Board has been left with no choice except to reschedule the Yatra from 7th June to 15th June 2009. This decision, he said, has been taken in the larger interests of the Yatris, who throng from various parts of the country and abroad to undertake an arduous journey, on either of both the difficult tracks, to pay obeisance at the Himalayan Holy Cave of Lord Shiva. 

 

The Spokesperson has advised the intending Yatris to finalize their travel arrangements as per the new schedule of the Yatra. As it is the Board’s responsibility to ensure the safety and comfort of the pilgrims, no one will be allowed to proceed on the tracks to the Holy Cave before the rescheduled date, by which time all necessary facilities would have been put in place and the Security Forces would have moved to their designated positions.

It may be recalled that while finalising the details of the helicopter services on the Baltal-Holy Cave and Srinagar-Holy Cave routes, the helicopter operators were asked by the Board to make advance booking only from the 17th June, 2009. The Spokesperson observed that all intending pilgrims who wished to avail of the services of helicopters to undertake the journey to the Holy Cave, may proceed to secure advance bookings on or before 17th June from either of the two operators viz M/S Himalayan Heli Services and M/S Deccan Charter Services Pvt. Ltd.   

The Spokesperson further said that the Jammu and Kashmir Bank is being asked to register the intending pilgrims as per the revised schedule of the commencement of the Yatra, from 15th June. While recognizing that the inconvenience caused to such of the pilgrims who have already got themselves registered with the designated branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank or on-line for coming the Yatra on any day during 7th June-14th June, the Spokesperson advised the Yatris to timely reschedule their travel arrangements. For this purpose they may please approach the concerned branch of the J&K Bank who would assist in getting them registered afresh for dates within the revised Yatra schedule, as per their convenience. Persons faced with any difficulty may use the Board’s Helpline: 9419024747 (Mobile) and e-mail ceo@shriamarnathjishrine.com

 

 

In view of the re-schedulement of the Yatra, the SASB has requested the Voluntary/Charitable Organisations, who have been permitted by the Board to set up Langars, to reach the Base Camps by 9th June, 2009 so that they can commence their onward movement, to various locations on both the tracks, by 10th June, 2009. The Board has appealed to all concerned voluntary organisations, which have been permitted to establish identified facilities, to see that all the authorized Langars are in place, at all the identified locations, by 12th June, 2009.

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