Today: Jun 21, 2024

Vaishno Devi shrine gears up for heavy pilgrim influx during summer holidays

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Jammu: Anticipating an increase in the footfall of devotees with the onset of summer holidays in many states across the country, authorities on Saturday called for extra measures for the safety of the pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Anshul Garg exhorted that security forces and other personnel deployed at all entry points should remain vigilant so that no pilgrim without frisking and registration enters the track for the pilgrimage.

He also stressed on verification and census of pony porters, besides any suspicious element on the track.

More than 33 lakh pilgrims have visited the famous shrine from January 1 to May 15 this year, marking an increase of nearly four lakhs compared to the same period last year, officials said.

Garg was chairing a meeting with security agencies for a comprehensive security and operational preparedness in anticipation of the burgeoning of devotees over the next couple of months.

The meeting discussed foolproof measures to ensure the best pilgrimage experience to the visiting devotees, an official release said.

“As summer holidays are inches closer in the country and the shrine being a tourist destination, we are expecting a heavy influx of the devotees. There is a need for action on diverse fronts for hassle-free pilgrimage, including issuance and verification of RFID cards and effective crowd management,” Garg said.

He also highlighted augmentation of holding areas on the track and in Katra town, working out plans for decongestion of the entire track, particularly the Bhawan area, separation of entry, exit routes at Bhawan and all time surveillance through dedicated CCTV network of over 700 cameras.

In addition, the CEO also reviewed in detail various components of the disaster management measures including fire fighting preparedness to ensure quick and most effective response from all stakeholders in the wake of any emergent situation, the release said.

Besides, he directed for regular announcements for the decongestion of the crowd on the track.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Reasi, Amit Gupta talked about major challenges for the deployed personnel in coming days for managing the expected influx of pilgrims.

“Ample deployment of forces is already in place and beat system is prevailing at Bhawan in coordination with SMVDSB and other security agencies on the track to ensure foolproof security and effective yatra management, besides multi-tier security grid comprising police, CRPF and other paramilitary forces,” the officer said.