Home minister Amit Shah, at a meeting chaired by him at North Block on Monday to review preparations and logistics for the yatra due to begin on June 30, said it was the government’s priority to enable the devotees to have easy darshan of the holy cave and make their pilgrimage hassle-free.
The meeting was attended by Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha, NSA Ajit Doval and members of the Central and J&K security brass.
Inputs and assessment of the intelligence agencies and J&K police regarding possible threats to the yatra this year were shared during the meeting. The risk is being evaluated against the backdrop of targetted terror attacks on the minorities in J&K, with Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat gunned down only recently at his Chadoora tehsil office.
A security plan has accordingly been prepared with adequate deployment of Central para-military forces, primarily CRPF, along the route of the yatra; RFID tags for all pilgrims and other participants, including ponies, to track their movements 24×7 from the integrated operations centre in Srinagar; and use of drones to detect threats. All yatris will be provided an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh each.
To facilitate the darshan, instructions have been given for suitable arrangements to be made for the seamless movement, lodging, electricity, water, communication and health of the pilgrims. In a first, as many as 8 ‘tent cities’ – on the lines of Kumbh mela – will be set up along the route of the yatra with tents and pre-fabricated structures to accommodate yatris on a payment basis. These will be in addition to free government accommodation available to the pilgrims.
With the yatra being held for the first time after Covid outbreak, suitable preparations are being made for pilgrims who may develop health problems due to high altitude. Along with setting up oxygen booths on the yatra route with enough oxygen cylinders, makeshift hospitals with at least 30 beds each are being readied at an altitude of more than 6,000 feet in Baltal and Chandanwari. Similarly, a 100-bed makeshift hospital is also being created at Srinagar for the yatris. An existing DRDO hospital at Jammu will attend to any Covid outbreaks for yatris travelling from Jammu side.
Other upgrades in Amarnath facilities include laying of OFC network from Anantnag to the holy cave and around 42 new towers along the yatra route for better connectivity. Frequency of heli-services to the holy cave will also be increased and 15 automatic weather stations will help provide six-hourly weather bulletins.
Directions have been given to deploy enough machines to open the route that may get blocked by likely landslides. All categories of transport services will be increased during the Amarnath Yatra for the convenience of passengers. An official told TOI that carrying capacity with respect to pilgrims has been increased by almost 60% for arrivals from both Jammu and Srinagar side.