The annual Amarnath Yatra concluded on Friday. Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said over 3.65 lakh yatris participated in the pilgrimage this year, which, as per the UT administration, is the highest figure since 2016.
In 2019, the yatra was suspended in the run up to the revocation of special status to J&K, while in 2020 and 2021, the yatra could not be conducted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The LG stated that despite inclement weather conditions for 20 days out of the total 44 days, the overall yatra remained peaceful.
Speaking on the flash floods that led to 15 deaths on July 8, the LG said all stakeholders, especially the locals of J&K, quickly carried out rescue and evacuation operations and saved many lives. “The dedication and commitment of our police and the security forces had ensured safety and security of the pilgrims,” he said.
The Lt Governor said the various new initiatives taken for the yatra, which was resumed after two years due to Covid pandemic, had assisted its smooth conduct.
The carrying capacity of yatris was increased by 80 per cent as compared to previous years. Special arrangements were made across J&K to accommodate 1,25,000 yatris in comparison to 70,000 earlier. A new “yatri niwas” at Chanderkote with a capacity 3,600 individuals was opened this year, which became a “key facility in accommodating more yatris, even during inclement weather”.
For the first time, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking of yatris was introduced, which Sinha said “proved very helpful in tracking yatris, especially during the time of disaster on July 8”.
Besides, two DRDO hospitals — one each at Baltal and Chandanwari — “aptly catered to the health needs of the yatris as well as locals and other stakeholders and saved many lives”.
Additionally, helicopter services were availed by the yatris from four sectors instead of two in the past. Two new heli-sectors from Srinagar to Neelgrath and Srinagar to Pahalgam opened for yatris.
The 44-day yatra began on June 30 from both Pahalgam and Baltal routes amidst high security.
In 2016, 2,20,490 people performed darshan. In 2017, the number rose to 2,60,003, while in 2018 and 2019, 2,85,006 and 3,43,587 people visited the holy cave.