August 14, 2020 9:13:00 pm
Pilgrimage to the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine at the Trikuta Hills near Katra will resume from Sunday, with the shrine board allowing a maximum of 2,000 pilgrims to proceed daily during the first week.
Of the 2,000, only 100 people from outside Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage daily, said Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board CEO Ramesh Kumar. The situation will be reviewed after a week and a decision will be taken accordingly, he said.
The pilgrimage to the shrine had been suspended on March 18 in view of the Covid-19 situation.
To avoid the assembly of people at yatra registration counters, the CEO said the pilgrims intending to undertake the journey will have to get themselves registered online. He said they will also be required to install the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones before proceeding, and it will be mandatory for them to wear face masks.
Every pilgrim will be scanned by thermal image scanners at yatra entry points, Kumar said, advising children below the age of 10 years, pregnant women, persons with co-morbidities and those above the age of 60 to avoid the yatra. As and when the Covid-19 situation normalises, the advisory for this group shall be revisited, he added.
Kumar said the yatra will move in a uni-directional manner. The traditional yatra route from Katra to Bhawan via Banganga, Adhkuwari and Sanjichhat will be used by pilgrims for proceeding towards the shrine, and the Himkoti-Tarakote Marg to return to Katra town.
A negative Covid-19 test report will be mandatory for those coming from outside J&K as well as those undertaking the pilgrimage from red zone districts within the UT. Kumar said ponies, pithus and palkis will initially not be allowed to ply on the yatra tracks.
The CEO said there will a distribution of free langar at Tarakote Marg and a prasad kendra at Sanjichhat for the facility of pilgrims, adding that all the supplementary facilities set up by the shrine board, like battery operated vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services will operate by following social distancing norms and other precautionary measures.
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