Jammu, Jun 27: The first batch of 2995 pilgrims for annual Shri Amarnathji Yatra was flagged off by Advisors to the Governor B B Vyas and K Vijay Kumar in presence of Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam, here this morning from Yatra base camp Bhagwati Nagar.
Speaking on the occasion, Advisor BB Vyas said that coordinated efforts have been put in place by the concerned agencies to ensure smooth and safe conduct of the Yatra.
“Amarnath Yatra is a very significant annual event. With the cooperation of public, security agencies and development agencies, we have put a scheme in place and are trying our best to address concerns of the yatris and ensure smooth flow of traffic,” Advisor, Vijay Kumar said.
The pilgrims from across the country comprising a batch of 2,995 persons left the base camp at around 4:30 AM in a fleet of 109 vehicles including 57 HMVs, 52 LMVs and four motorcycles for onward journey to cave shrine through traditional Pahalgam and Baltal routes.
Around 1,904 pilgrims opted for traditional Pahalgam route while 1,091 choose the Baltal route to reach the Himalayan cave shrine in South Kashmir. The batch comprised of 2,334 men, 520 women, 21 children and 120 Sadhus.
Legislators, Devender Singh Rana, Vikram Randhawa, senior civil and police officers besides a large number of civil society members and representatives of religious organizations were present on the occasion.
The Divisional Administration, Tourism Department and other agencies associated with the yatra arrangements, besides the volunteers of Civil Defence have made adequate arrangements to provide lodging, transportation, medicare, food, and clean drinking water, sanitation etc at the Jammu base camp and along the yatra route for the convenience of the pilgrims.
Meanwhile Amarnath pilgrims, who started from Jammu, reached the twin base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam in Kashmir this evening.
Of this group of pilgrims, 1,904 have opted for traditional Pahalgam route while 1,091 choose the Baltal route to reach the Himalayan cave shrine in south Kashmir. The batch comprises of 2,334 men, 520 women, 21 children and 120 Sadhus, officials said.
The pilgrims, coming from across the country, were taken to their respective base camps as security forces dotted the 400-km road length from Jammu to Baltal and Pahalgam.
The government is for the first time using radio frequency (RF) tags to track Amarnath-bound vehicles, while the CRPF has introduced motorcycle squads with cameras and various life-saving equipment.
Around 40,000 security personnel from the Jammu and Kashmir Police, paramilitary, National Disaster Response Force and the Army, have been deployed for this year’s pilgrimage.
A total of 2.60 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the shrine last year.
Considering the carrying capacity of the existing tracks and other available infrastructure in the pilgrimage area, the SASB has decided to allow 7, 500 pilgrims on each route daily.
While the pilgrims performing the yatra via shorter Baltal route usually return to the base camp within a day, those taking the traditional Pahalgam route have to trek 42 kms, with an overnight stay at one of the halting stations before they can pay obeisance at the cave shrine.
The yatra will begin tomorrow and conclude on 26 August to coincide with Raksha Bandhan festival.