Home Minister Amit Shah to chair high level meeting on Amarnath Yatra preparations

New Delhi, Jun 9: Home Minister Amit Shah will lead a high-level meeting on Friday to assess the preparations and security arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir, according to reports. The 62-day-long annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, situated at an altitude of 3,880 meters in the south Kashmir Himalayas, is scheduled to commence on July 1 and continue until August 31.

During the meeting, the home minister will review the preparations for the Amarnath pilgrimage with senior officials from the central government and Jammu and Kashmir administration, as per sources quoted by news agency PTI. The meeting will also discuss the formulation of comprehensive security plans to ensure the safety and well-being of the pilgrims.

Intelligence inputs suggest that Pakistan-based terror outfits may attempt to disrupt the pilgrimage, necessitating the deployment of adequate security forces, the sources added. All stakeholders involved in the pilgrimage will participate in the meeting to discuss various aspects related to the arrangements being made for the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.

Significant amounts of snow have been observed along both tracks leading to the holy cave, namely Baltal and Pahalgam. The Border Roads Organisation has been entrusted with the task of clearing the snow by June 15, as per the sources.

To prevent incidents like last year’s flash floods that claimed the lives of 16 people near the shrine, the National Disaster Response Force is identifying suitable locations for establishing pilgrim camps, considering potential unforeseen natural disasters.

The Indian Air Force helicopters are expected to conduct aerial sorties in the upper reaches of the holy cave to monitor glacial events and the formation of lakes that could trigger flash floods downstream. Unlike last year, when such sorties were carried out only after the flash floods occurred in June, this year’s exercise will be undertaken before the yatra commences and at regular intervals throughout the two-month pilgrimage, sources revealed.

A team equipped with expertise in remote sensing, satellite technology, hydrology, and disaster response may conduct the aerial surveys. Upon identifying dangerous water build-up, contingency measures will be implemented along the entire pilgrimage route, particularly in the vicinity of the cave shrine, the sources further stated.

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