Srinagar:  Amid stringent SOPs and tight security arrangements, the annual Amarnath yatra is set to take off from the Baltal route in the last week of July.

 This year, the authorities have decided to curtail the duration of Yatra due to the pandemic. The traditional Pahalgam route will not be opened for the yatra this year.  

Elaborate arrangements have been to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing have been made mandatory for the pilgrims en route to the holy cave.

“The yatra will be completely different this year given the Covid-19 pandemic. Wearing facemasks, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding intermingling with other families have been made mandatory,” said an official associated with the yatra arrangements.

All the yatris will undergo medical check-ups and regular thermal scanning on way to the holy cave.

Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful and incident-free pilgrimage this year.

“Since the yatra will take place from the Baltal route only, the deployment of the forces will be more,” said Pankaj Singh, CRPF spokesperson at Srinagar.

 Singh said the deployment of forces will start soon after the pilgrims’ camps will be set up. “The camps will be established after July 1 and deployment of the forces will start after that,” he said.

Officials said all arrangements including repairing of roads and other utility works have started en route to the cave shrine.

“Proper arrangements are being made at the district level for the comfort of yatris. Right now, the roads are being repaired and some other civil works like trek clearances are taking place to ensure the hassle-free journey of yatris,” said Shafaqat Iqbal, Deputy Commissioner of Ganderbal.

Sources said the Baltal and Neelgrath helipads will be ready in the next two weeks.

For those who couldn’t pay obeisance, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has approached Doordarshan for the live telecast of morning and evening Pooja during the pilgrimage.

“The idea is being discussed with the Doordarshan and hopefully, entire Pooja programmes will be for broadcasting live till the end of the yatra period,” an official said.

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