Yatra stalled due to heavy rains, landslides via Baltal

Srinagar, Jul 6: On the directions of Governor N N Vohra, Chairman Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, to Umang Narula, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, an evacuation rescue operations were launched early today to evacuate stranded Yatris from Panjtarni to Baltal.
The virtually non-stop rainfall over the past several days has adversely affected the track conditions, particularly on the Baltal-Sangam-Holy Cave route. Besides landslides at several places the maximum disruption has been caused by shooting stones and the sinking of the track at certain locations.
As directed by the Governor, sick pilgrims as well as the aged and women Yatris were amongst the first to be airlifted when three Indian Air Force MI-17 Helicopters started operating sorties from Panjtarni to Baltal.
Cancelling a pre-scheduled tour to Jammu, in connection with an important engagement, Governor Vohra, accompanied by B B Vyas, Advisor to Governor, and Umang Narula, Chief Executive Officer, visited Baltal, Panjtarni and Nunwan (Pahalgam) Yatra Camps for a first hand assessment of the ground situation.
Besides holding meetings with the Camp Directors and senior Civil officers of the various departments, Deputy Commissioners and SSPs Ganderbal and Anantnag districts, officers of Police, Army, BRO etc, Governor met the pilgrims to hear their problems.
After discussions with Deputy Commissioners, SSPs, Camp Directors and all other concerned officers, Governor gave directions regarding the cut-off timings for the upward and downward movements on the Baltal-Panjtarni-Baltal Track; urgent deployment of additional Police personnel, MRTP rescue teams and SDRF teams at all the critical locations on the tracks to regulate the movement of Yatris, particularly those who are unwell; urgent deployment of additional labour for the immediate restoration of the damaged portions of the track and, besides, to stand-by for repairing any arising problem; installation of lights along the damaged/vulnerable portions of the track; deployment of a Magistrate at Brarimarg; Camp Directors and Police to ensure strict enforcement of the rates charged for tents, ponies, porters, palkis etc and particularly ensure against any overcharging; as the Baltal route has become in-operative due to falling stones/landslides Camp Director Baltal was instructed to see that Yatris who possess Registration to travel on the Baltal route should be facilitated to undertake their pilgrimage via the Pahalgam route if they so wish; J&K Bank to be approached for urgently establishing facility for disbursal of cash at Panjtarni till an ATM is installed here.
With a view to regulate the movement of pilgrims from Jammu onwards, till the Baltal track becomes operational the Governor has convened an Emergency Meeting at the Raj Bhavan today evening for taking appropriate decisions and making them known to pilgrims and all concerned authorities in the State.
Meanwhile in view of the incidences of shooting stones and slippery tracks the Yatra remained suspended from the Baltal route. Meanwhile it has been proceeding smoothly from the Pahalgam route. However, Helicopter service operated from both the routes.
CEO further informed that on the 9th day of ongoing Shri Amarnathji Yatra 4821 Yatris paid obeisance at Holy Cave and till date 73023 Yatris had the darshan of the Shivling at the Holy Cave.
The Amarnath Yatra resumed today from the Pahalgam route after a gap of two days while it remained suspended for the third consecutive day from the Baltal route due to landslides.
The yatra was suspended on Wednesday on both routes in the wake of landslides and shooting stones at several places and intermittent rains in the Yatra area.
A spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) said here today that the yatra resumed from the Pahalgam route in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district this morning.
He, however, said the yatra remained suspended from the Baltal route in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district due to landslides near the base camp and in Danibagh area of Kangan on the Srinagar-Leh highway.
The landslide at Danibagh also forced the closure of the Srinagar-Leh road – the only road-link connecting the valley with Ladakh region.
A police official said today that three pilgrims died and four others were injured when they came under a landslide between Brarimarg and Railpathri on Baltal route on Tuesday night while two pilgrims were killed by shooting stones over the past three days.
A pilgrim from West Bengal, Sanjay Santra, died near the cave shrine due to cardiac arrest, the official said.
Six other persons have died due to cardiac arrest since the pilgrimage to the 3880-metre high shrine began on June 28, taking the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage to 12.