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All set for Amarnath Yatra

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: June 13, 2009 18:15 IST
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The annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine will begin on Monday albeit only from the Baltel route as the traditional south route via Pahalgam is still snow-bound.

The official announcement was made after Governor N.N.Vohra, who heads the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), made an aerial survey of the two routes for the third time and meetings with the state and board officials on the conduct of yatra.

"The yatra will be flagged off from Jammu on June 15 only for those who have registered for the Baltal route. Thus the yatris travelling on this route can have the darshan next day," a spokesman of the SASB said.

Vohra conducted a detailed review of the climatic conditions and the arrangements at the Holy Cave and both the base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam yesterday during his final assessment.

"Observing that the safety and security of the yatris was the first and foremost concern of the board, particularly in the context of the obtaining adverse weather conditions and its impact on the present status of the tracks and facilities, particularly on the Chandanwari–holy Cave route, the governor said the board is left with no option except to allow the yatra only from the Baltal route at this juncture," a statement said.

The board spokesman clarified that "due to the persisting rain and snowfall at several points on the traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari route, it is not possible to open the yatra along this route till the weather improves and the track from Sheshnag to Sangam is cleared."

"To enable an early decision regarding opening up of the Chandanwari Cave route, the Jawahar Mountaineering Institute at Pahalgam has been requested to depute a group of trained persons to recce this route by June 21 and send a report to the board," the statement.

At the holy Cave, the governor was briefed on the arrangements made by the SASB by its camp director despite continuing heavy rain and daily snow.

The governor was assured by the district administration that proper arrangements for drinking water and electricity will be made available at the Cave by June 15.

The SASB emphasized that the above arrangements are being made in the interest of the overall safety and security of the pilgrims.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar