Currently, helicopter services are available for the pilgrims from Baltal and Pahalgam to Panchtarni, pilgrims either walk or hire a horse ride or a palanquin to reach the Amarnath shrine from this point. Both Baltal and Pahalgam are more than 100 kilometres from Srinagar.
This year, a new route is being added from Srinagar airport to Panchtarni, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole said the step is being considered in view of the demand from the number of pilgrims who don’t have much time to travel and want to take a helicopter from Srinagar to the holy cave directly.
PK Pole said, “Majority of pilgrims want to go through helicopter from Baltal and Pahalgam, but there are some pilgrims who come by air and want to go by air from Srinagar to the cave and come back. The shrine board is working on that and it will be provided.”
The chopper service from Srinagar airport to Panjtarni will also erase the terrorist threat to the pilgrims as they need not travel by road. The administration is also ensuring the full proof security of those pilgrims who will drive by road to the base camp of Baltal or Pahalgam.
Pole further said, “This year a new thing is being introduced, all our service providers and pilgrims and all employees attached to the yatra will be provided with RFID tag. This will help in tracking everyone’s movement and even animals will get this tag. This will help us in the management of overcrowding and stampede like situations during the yatra.”
IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said, “For Amarnath Yatra security, we are working for the last one month and we have done many meetings. We will provide three tyre security, drone surveillance will be in place , CCTVs will be installed, RFID will be installed and we will ensure incident-free yatra.”
Notably, the administration is strictly implementing the RFID (radio frequency identification tag) system for everyone participating in the yatra. Even animals will be tagged so that everyone can be on track to avert any untoward incident.
As per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) framed on the directions of the Supreme Court of India, only 15,000 registered Shri Amarnath Yatra pilgrims are allowed beyond Pahalgam and Baltal in a day, including 7,500 each from Baltal and Pahalgam tracks. This excluded pilgrims who would travel by helicopter on either route to Panjtarni.
This year, the Amarnath Yatra would go on for 43 days starting June 30. Intelligence agencies have already alerted about the terror threat on the upcoming yatra. This includes the latest threat of targeting the pilgrims who came from little know terrorist group Kashmir Freedom Fighter, which according to security officials is an offshoot of Jaish-e-Mohammed.
J&K LG reviews preparations for Amarnath Yatra
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday reviewed the preparations for the annual Amarnath pilgrimage during a high-level meeting, which was attended by the Chief Secretary, Administrative secretaries of different departments, Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Divisional Commissioners, and concerned Deputy Commissioners.
The Lt Governor stressed that all the work of yatra arrangements should be completed within the set timeline, calling upon the officials to ensure optimum use of technology to make the yatra safer and more convenient for the pilgrims.
Underlining the significance of the holy yatra, Sinha instructed all senior officials to periodically inspect the security and every aspect of world-class arrangements, including transport, lodging, sanitation, electricity, water, communication, health, convenience shops, food courts, vending zones etc for Amarnath Yatris.