Jammu: To make the forthcoming annual Amaranth pilgrimage more comfortable and modern for the devotees, the Shri Amaranth Shrine Board (SASB) which manages the religious event has decided to extend the chopper services from Srinagar upto the Cave shrine.
The authorities have started making advance arrangements for the yatra to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Amarnath in the South Kashmir Himalayas with the ebbing of third Wave.
The yatra remained suspended for the last three years-first it was suspended a few days before the August 5 decision to abrogate the special status to Jammu & Kashmir and the bifurcation of the state into the union territories of J&K and Ladakh. That year, the administration had ordered non-local tourists and laborers to leave the Valley immediately. On all three occasions the pilgrimage was held symbolic only. Last couple of years the Yatra was suspended due to Covid-19.
The yatra takes place from the twin routes of Pahalgam in south Kashmir and Baltal in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir in summer.
The authorities are making arrangements for introducing chopper services from Srinagar upto the Cave shrine. Direct chopper service will be introduced from Srinagar to Neelgrath and Pahalgam, however the helicopter service for Neelgrath (Baltal)-Panjtarni-Neelgrath (Baltal) Sector and Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam Sector shall continue as per past practice.
As per sources SASB has sought applications from the operators, desirous of getting registrations for the year 2022 and 2023. Now the new route will be Srinagar- Neelgrath-Srinagar and Srinagar-Pahalgam- Srinagar sector. The operators have been given time till March 15 for applying.
As per terms of the registration, the aviation companies must have three light helicopters and they need to deposit Rs 30 lakh as security with the SASB. And the aviation company should have altleast five years experience in flying and pilots must have experience of 1500 flight hours. However the chopeer service to Neelgrath (Baltal)-Panjtarni-Neelgrath (Baltal) Sector and Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam Sector shall continue and February 25 was last of submitting applications.
Last December, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha had said that continuous efforts are being made to make the annual yatra to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in the Himalayas “comfortable, modern and safe” for the devotees.
Three Yatri Niwas are being created to provide better boarding and lodging facilities to pilgrims on their way to the cave shrine. These include Chandarkote Yatri Niwas coming up at Ramban district, which would provide accommodation to around 3,200 yatris, besides Jammu Yatri Niwas and with a capacity of accommodation of 3000 yatris. While the Srinagar administration has decided to increase the holding capacity at the Panthachowk transit camp for Amarnath pilgrims to 6,000 from the existing 2,500 pilgrims.
Anticipating huge influx of pilgrims for the annual Amaarnath Yatra, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole few days directed all the departments to prepare and project enhanced plan by fifty percent.