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Govt working on development and promotion of spiritual tourism circuit: LG

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Assures strict action against culprits involved in irregularities in recruitment process

Katra: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Wednesday said the government is working for development and promotion of the spiritual tourism circuit so as to attract more and more tourists to the spiritual places in J&K.

Sinha made these assertions at a function on 37th Foundation day of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) and 12th Annual day of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Gurukul, Charan Paduka, Katra today at the Matrika Auditorium of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU).

On the occasion, the LG also said that the strict action shall be taken as per the law against the culprits for alleged irregularities in recruitment examination of Sub-Inspector, Financial Account Assistant and Junior Engineer.

“There were complaints of irregularities in the recruitment examination of Sub-Inspector, Financial Account Assistant and Junior Engineer. High-level committee investigated the allegations without delay and keeping in view the recommendation of the committee, the investigation of these three examinations has been handed over to the CBI,” said the LG.

“I want to assure the youth that there will be no compromise on transparency and merit. Justice will be ensured, their ability and merit will be respected and strict action will be taken against all those elements who have unethically tried to harm the future of meritorious aspirants,” said the LG.

The LG laid the foundation stone of various projects of Shrine Board and Gurukul, including a new hostel for the expansion of Gurukul and accommodation facilities for Shrine Board’s employees at Ardhkuwari and Banganga, an official press release informed.

Taking another significant welfare step for the employees of the Shrine Board, the LG announced hardship allowance for 1,450 SMVDSB employees posted at higher altitude.

LG also rolled out a new RFID system for the convenience of the passengers. The system will ensure seamless access control with minimal hassle to devotees. For better crowd management and tracking of the pilgrims, 29 counters and control rooms have been set up in Katra and verification counters have been set up at seven locations on the track, the press release informed.

It was further informed that the work on Spiritual Theme Park will commence before the auspicious occasion of Navratras.

Addressing the gathering, the LG congratulated all the members, stakeholders and everyone associated with the SMVDSB and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Gurukul for the Foundation Day.

Observing that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Gurukul is the “center of knowledge and wisdom”, the LG said that the Gurukul is a perfect medium to develop the future leaders who will be well accustomed with the modern, traditional, and spiritual education.

From the last 12 years the Gurukul is paving the way for the strong spiritual-cultural foundation of J&K. The affiliation of Gurukul with Central Sanskrit University, New Delhi is an important step towards revival of Sanskrit in J&K and connecting students with science and spirituality, he added.

At Gurukul, “we must encourage original ideas among the students and nurture their minds so that they can learn higher values of life and dedicate themselves towards nation building. It should be our endeavor that necessary changes should be made in the syllabus as per the National Education Policy,” the LG urged the stakeholders.

“In the last two years, we have tried to reshape the education system in J&K according to the National Education Policy. Work has been done to develop all the institutions from school to university level as centers of change in consciousness. Today our youth are giving priority to service to society along with personal aspirations and that is a notable transformation after a long time,” the LG said.

“We have launched several important initiatives in the last two years,  including the flagship program ‘Student- Teacher Mentorship’ which is a revolutionary step towards enhancing learning outcomes by identifying the learning gaps.

“In Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Gurukul also, the teachers will get an opportunity to radically change their teaching method by assessing the needs, capability and interests of the students. It will also lead to commensurate changes to the syllabus to inculcate ideas based on future requirements,” he added.

The LG appreciated the efforts of the management for affiliation with the Central Sanskrit University and expansion of the Gurukul as far as student intake is concerned.

The LG also highlighted the measures undertaken to cater to the needs of 8-9 lakh devotees visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine every month.

“On this occasion, we must also remember the key role of Shri Jagmohan ji, former Governor of erstwhile J&K in the constitution of SMVD Shrine Board,” said the LG.

“Keeping in view the heavy rush of devotees, we are constantly improving the facilities to make their pilgrimage hassle-free. In the last two years, new projects have been sanctioned for better facilities and resources and important steps have also been taken for crowd management at the holy shrine. The work on Sky Walk will be completed by December,” the LG said.

MoU between National Highway Logistics Management Limited (NHLML) and Katra Development Authority that was inked on 30th August 2022 will create one of its kind intermodal stations for the devotees bringing services like helipad, railway station, bus stand, auto stand, parking, five star hotels, and other modern day facilities at one place, he added.

Enlisting a host of new initiatives taken for ensuring that pilgrims from all over the world get state-of-the-art facilities and further strengthening the linkage between the local economy and pilgrimage, the Lt Governor said that the government is working on development and promotion of spiritual tourism circuit. Efforts are being made for conservation and revitalization of spiritual cultural heritage and to bring prominent spiritual and religious places like Purmandal- Utterbehni, Mansar-Surinsar and Shiv Khori on the religious tourism circuit of the country which will also generate livelihood opportunities for the locals, the LG said.

As many as 18 projects for conservation of places with spiritual cultural importance have been started in Jammu, Kathua, Ramban, Reasi, Samba, Udhampur which were neglected for years. After waiting for seven decades, all these sites will be restored and the surrounding infrastructure will also be developed and comprehensive and holistic development of the entire area will be ensured, the LG further added.

Mahamandleshwar Shri Swami Vishveshvaranand Giriji Maharaj, Member of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Chairman of the Governing Council observed that during a short span of 12 years since its establishment in 2010, the Gurukul has earned a name in imparting quality education in Sanskrit and other subjects and exuded confidence that very soon it will emerge as a centre of excellence.

Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, in his remarks acknowledging the unparalleled emotional connect with the shrine lauded the achievements achieved so far and emphasised for the pleasant and hassle free experience of the visiting pilgrims.

Anshul Garg, Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, in his welcome address highlighted the initiatives taken under the guidance of LG for facilitation of pilgrims initiated in a very short period by SMVDSB like Mobile App, Home Delivery of Pooja Prasad/Panch Mewa Prasad, round the clock call centre for facilitation of pilgrims, installation of hi-tech video walls, construction of Durga Bhawan, e-library, Yatri Queue Management (Sky walk), underground cabling project and RFID project.

He also thanked the Chief Secretary for extending full support to SMVDSB as and when required. He also briefed the gathering on the efforts being made for continuing improvements in the functioning of Gurukul.

Dr. Dhananjay Mishra, Principal of the Gurukul, presented the Annual Report of the institution while students of the Gurukul staged an impressive Sanskrit play “Bharat Vijayam”, which was highly appreciated by the audience.

The LG felicitated the meritorious students who have excelled in academics and various other extra-curricular activities during the past one year.

The LG also released a book “Gurukulodayam” tracing the foundation and evolution of Gurukul- an institute of Sanskrit Learning. He also inaugurated a Photo exhibition capturing Pilgrim Centric services and social support interventions of the Shrine Board since 1986.

On the occasion, the LG also laid e-foundation of new dinning cum accommodation complex at SMVD Gurukul and Nature Interpretation Centre & Seed Bank at Kunia Nursery, Panthal.

An impressive presentation of Bhagawati Stuti, Bhajan, culture program by the students were among the main highlights of the event.

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