Days after the Gujarat Transport department withdrew its circular advising tour operators undertaking Amarnath Yatra to provide bullet-proof jackets to the driver of the bus, the cleaner and pilgrims, the Transport Commissioner of Gujarat, through a release from the state government, has reiterated some guidelines pertaining to the permit for undertaking the yatra as well as a mandatory installation of a GPS vehicle locator in order to track the bus in case of emergency.
The release makes it mandatory for tour operators to follow the guidelines related to permits, routes and age of the driver of the bus. The release states, “Several tourists travel to Amarnath Yatra every year because of their devotion. The safety of these tourists is also as important as the religious relevance of the tours. Therefore, the state Transport Commissioner has issued important instructions.” The release lays down guidelines for operators, including providing a medical certificate to confirm the fitness of the drivers.
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The release makes it mandatory for respective Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) to issue special permits for Amarnath only when tour operators submit registration forms from the Amarnath Board in advance. While the new release does not necessitate age of the bus, which was earlier stipulated to be lesser than eight years, the operators have been asked to ensure the age of the driver is “not above 50 years”. The operators have also been asked to ensure that the driver must follow a route plan, convoy and security guidelines laid down by the government of Jammu and Kashmir.
The release makes it mandatory for operators to install a GPS vehicle locator in the buses. It states, “In case of any unforeseen situations, the driver, the operator or the passengers must contact numbers of control rooms of their state, of which the phone numbers should be prominently displayed in the bus. Since SIM cards of other states do not work in Jammu and Kashmir, pilgrims must purchase local SIM cards from the base camp before embarking on their journey.”