As the Amarnath yatra is scheduled to start on June 30, various preparations are underway to ensure a safe, convenient, and quicker pilgrimage to almost three lakh pilgrims this year. The government has made elaborate arrangements to an extent that pilgrims this year can complete the yatra in just a day.
This would be done by flying directly from the national capital to Srinagar and then to Pahalgam or Neelgrath. Pahalgam and Neelgrath both are base camps for Yatris. From there onwards, Yatris can fly to Panchtarni from where they can lead to the holy cave. Panchtarni lies just a few kilometres below the holding cave.
This year as many as 11 choppers have been put to service to ferry the pilgrims towards the holy site. The pilgrims can return to Delhi even till midnight as the Srinagar airport has been operating the flights till evening. The one-way tariff from Srinagar to Neelgrath will be rupees 11,700 and rupees 10,800 from Srinagar to Pahalgam and tickets for the same can be purchased online.
There have also been growing concerns about security ahead of the yatra and various reviews have been held by the government for the same.
Twin routes of the yatra were visited by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday where he took stock of the preparations underway for the pilgrimage. The government is making tight security arrangements, especially concerning the militant attacks that may take place as per the inputs of the intelligence agencies.
As a routine matter, X-ray checks have been set up along the yatra route and this would involve frisking of all the individuals including locals that would head towards either Pahalgam or Baltal.
Superintendents of police have been put on dedicated yatra roles and the pilgrims will reportedly be escorted by the forces right away from outside Kashmir. Locals and employees residing near these base camps have reportedly been provided with movement passes to ensure hassle-free commutation.
Even before the start of the Yatra, the routes leading to both of these base camps through Pahalgam and also Baltal are being combed daily by the security agencies with sniffing dogs and patrolling parties making a thorough check of all the drains and vehicles parked alongside the route.
At regular intervals along with the route, bunkers have been set up by the forces and most of the entry and exit points to these main routes have been guarded by concertina wires. As per initial reports, it is being said that civilian traffic movement will be halted at places from where the Yatra will pass.
Security has remained a rising concern as recently three militants were gunned down in the Batakote forests of Kashmir’s Pahalgam area which is aligned with the KP Road, a traditional route to the river Amarnath shrine.
On May 23, police in Srinagar’s Chanapora area recovered 15 pistols and 300 bullets. In the Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, authorities discovered 10 handguns with 54 bullets on April 19. Seven sticky bombs and seven grenades were seized after a drone was shot down in the Kathua area of the Jammu province area earlier this week.
As per an official at Amarnath Shrine Board, nearly three lakh registrations have taken place but the number of devotees visiting the cave is going to be more than the registered toll. “Most of the tourists here in Pahalgam during the time of the Yatra sneak in to also visit the cave so the cumulative number gets larger than that registered number,” an official at Amarnath Shrine Board had told India Ahead.
India Ahead had earlier reported that a 70 bedded hospital built by DRDO in record time at base camp Pahalgam was inaugurated by LG on Friday who also ordered that a fire audit should be done of all the structures related to Yatra.
The facility will reportedly have an X-RAY available in it along with a general ward, daily OPD, and an ICU allied with an oxygenated ward, pharmacy, laboratory, and also the USG testing. Its construction had begun on June 9.