Amarnath yatra likely from July 21

The annual Amarnath yatra is likely to commence from July 21 from Baltal in Ganderbal district, official sources said. However, they said that the final decision about the yatra will be taken by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) at a meeting on Monday.

As per the schedule, the 42-day long yatra this year was to begin from June 23 but it could not due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The pilgrimage, sources said, in view of the pandemic has been curtailed from July 21 to August 5.

Official sources told Greater Kashmir that the yatra is likely to start from July 21, from Baltal route in Ganderbal district only. However, they added that the final decision on the commencement of the yatra from the SASB was still awaited.

“We have readied the Baltal route for the pilgrims who are expected to visit in limited numbers due to this pandemic,” a senior official in the administration said.

Meanwhile, heavy security arrangements have been made along the Baltal route in Ganderbal.

Deputy commissioner Ganderbal, Shafqat Iqbal, said that all the preparations for the yatra are finalised.  “The arrangements at Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district up to the holy cave have been put in place. But the final decision about yatra commencement is awaited,” the DC said.

Governor visits cave shrine

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu Sunday visited the holy Amarnath cave shrine.

Accompanied by senior officers of SASB and administration, Murmu, who is the chairman of the Shrine Board, performed a special ‘pooja’ at the cave shrine and wished for peace in J&K.

The Lieutenant Governor wished for an early end to coronavirus pandemic and hoped that the people would soon get relief from Covid-19.

He expressed happiness over the decision of the Shrine Board to broadcast a live telecast of Amarnath Aarti, twice a day, starting from today till August 3 and said it would benefit the pilgrims across the world.  “A large number of pilgrims may not be able to visit the shrine this year. The live telecast of Amarnath Aarti will benefit all such devotees,” he said.

Protocol for pilgrims

The UT administration has made it mandatory for all pilgrims to undergo Covid-19 screening and quarantine until they are reported to be negative.

The pilgrimage would be held in a restricted manner so that the SoPs for COVID-19 are strictly adhered to during the conduct of the Yatra.

A maximum of 500 pilgrims would be allowed per day by road from Jammu to Kashmir.