Amarnath Yatra to kick off on June 23, culminate on August 3

A cab driver loads luggage on his vehicle near the Dal Lake in Srinagar. (Express photo: Shuaib Masoodi)

The SHRI Amarnathji Shrine Board on Friday decided that this year’s pilgrimage will be 43-days long and will begin on June 23.

The decision came at a meeting of the Board presided over by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu at the Raj Bhavan here. It was attended, among others, by Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj, D C Raina, Pt Bhajan Sopori, Professor Anita Billawaria, Dr Sudershan Kumar, Dr C M Seth and Professor Vishwamurti Shastri — all members of the Shrine Board — besides its Chief Executive Officer Bipul Pathak, Additional CEO Anup Kumar Soni and other senior officers.

Pointing out that the duration and the date of commencement of this year’s yatra was decided on the basis of an approach set out by the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Committee, an official release here said that the yatra will coincide with the Jagannath Rath Yatra, and will conclude on August 3.

The registration of pilgrims will be handled at 442 designated branches of the Punjab National Bank, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank, across the country.

The Board directed Pathak to take the measures required for advance registration of pilgrims with effect from April 1. It also decided to increase the quota of online registrations, considering the success of the pilot project in 2019.

The Board also directed widespread publicity for the yatra through electronic and print media. It asked the official to inform intending pilgrims to procure Compulsory Health Certificates — issued by the Doctors/ Hospitals nominated by their home states or UTs — in a timely manner, and only then proceed to seek advance registration from a designated bank. The bank will issue the pilgrim a Yatra Permit which is valid for a specified date and route.

The Board also advised the CEO to appeal to all the potential pilgrims to consult their doctors before embarking on the pilgrimage. The CEO was also asked to widely publicise that no person below the age of 13 years and above the age of 75 years shall be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage.

The Board directed the CEO to take steps to ensure uninterrupted telecommunications connectivity on the routes of the yatra and also asked him remind potential pilgrims to take into account the difficult climate and terrain in the high altitude region of the yatra.

As in the past, the awareness campaign would be launched with support from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and all information related to Yatra will be placed on the Board’s website.

The Board also reviewed the action plan drawn up for the conduct of this year’s yatra, particularly arrangements being made for providing medical care, sanitation facilities, installation of railings at all vulnerable points along each of the two routes and measures being taken to preserve the environment of the yatra area by ensuring removal of garbage in a scientific and environment friendly manner.

Instructions were also issued to ensure that the yatra routes and camps remain plastic free and use of single-use plastics was completely prohibited.