Government appoints Nodal Officers for Amarnath Yatra 2024

| Updated: 20 June, 2024 11:58 am IST

JAMMU: The government has appointed two IAS officers as Nodal Officers to ensure the smooth conduct of the Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra, 2024.

Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Administrative Secretary of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, has been designated as the Nodal Officer for the Baltal Axis. Bhupinder Kumar, Administrative Secretary of the Public Works (R&B) Department, has been appointed as the Nodal Officer for the Pahalgam Axis.

“The officers will closely monitor and coordinate with all agencies involved in the Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra-2024 and will report regularly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board,” stated an order issued by Sanjeev Verma, Commissioner/Secretary of the General Administration Department (GAD).

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With the 52-day annual Amarnath Ji Yatra set to commence on June 29 this year, preparations are progressing rapidly along the Pahalgam-Chandanwari and Baltal routes to the holy cave to ensure a smooth pilgrimage.

According to official sources, snow clearance on the Baltal route to the holy cave is nearly complete. In contrast, two patches, Mahagunas Top and Poshpathri on the Nunwan-Chandanwari route, are still being cleared. The snow from these areas will be removed within days, sources added.

Camps have been established at the base camps of Baltal and Nunwan. Two 100-bed hospitals, one each at Baltal and Chandanwari, have also been set up and will be operational within three to four days. These hospitals will be managed by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and operated by the J&K Health Services Department, sources said.

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The track has been improved from both axes and widened to 12 feet for the convenience of pilgrims, in compliance with Supreme Court directives of 2012. Additionally, sanitation arrangements are being made throughout the Yatra area, overseen by the Directorate of Rural Sanitation, J&K Government.

Water and power supply arrangements have been made at both base camps, while in the upper areas, these arrangements are in the advanced stages and will be completed soon, sources said. Helicopter services are in place, with direct chopper services available from Srinagar to Pahalgam and Srinagar to Neelgrath on the Baltal route.

In light of the 2022 disaster near the holy cave, the SASB has decided not to establish any camps in disaster-prone areas adjacent to the holy cave for the safety of pilgrims and service providers. The nallah that caused the 2022 disaster has been reinforced with protection walls on both sides and deepened to ensure that floodwaters flow into the Umravati stream beneath the holy cave.

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Approximately 10 ghats have been constructed in the holy cave and lower holy cave area to accommodate the required ritual bath for pilgrims before darshan at the cave shrine. As a precautionary measure, around 14 kilometres of vulnerable areas on both tracks have been equipped with railings on both sides for the safety and security of pilgrims and service providers.

Moreover, two dozen bridges have been constructed on both tracks, sources said. For the convenience of pilgrims arriving from different parts of the country via the Baltal route, the three-story section of the newly constructed Yatri Niwas at Pantha Chowk in Srinagar will be used for accommodation. Although the six-story Yatri Niwas at Pantha Chowk is still under construction, the completed three-story section will be utilized for pilgrims’ accommodation. Additionally, two Langars will be established at the Yatri Niwas, sources added.

At the holy cave, medical facilities, security, water, and power supply will be completed in a couple of days, while Langars are being set up on both tracks from Baltal and Nunwan-Chandanwari to the holy cave. As in the past, authorities have made Radio Frequency Identity chips mandatory for pilgrims, and no yatri without it will be allowed to embark on the pilgrimage, sources said.

The 52-day annual Amarnath Yatra to the holy cave, situated at 3,880 meters in the deep Himalayas in Anantnag district of South Kashmir, will culminate on August 19, coinciding with the Rakshabandhan festival. Online registration of pilgrims began on April 15 this year nationwide.

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