Katra (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], August 14 (ANI): The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has permitted the visit of 2,000 pilgrims per day, including 1,900 from within Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 100 from outside in the view of COVID-19 on Friday.

The yatra to the shrine, which was suspended from March 18, will resume from August 16.

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Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said that during the first week of the resumption of pilgrimage, there shall be a ceiling of 2,000 pilgrims per day, including 1,900 from within Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 100 from outside the Union Territory.

"The situation will be reviewed thereafter and the decision will be taken accordingly. The pilgrims will be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage after registration through online mode only in order to avoid any assembly of persons at the Yatra Registration Counters," said Kumar.

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The shrine board will be abiding the health norms induced by the Centre to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Chief Executive Officer further said that the yatra will move in a uni-directional manner. The traditional route from Katra to Bhawan via Banganga, Adhkuwari and Sanjichhat will be used for going up and Himkoti route-Tarakote Marg will be used for coming back from the Bhawan.

The COVID negative test report of the pilgrims from outside the UT and also from Red Zone districts of Jammu and Kashmir will be checked at the helipad and the yatra entry points at Darshani Deodi, Banganga, Katra. Only those with negative reports will be allowed to move beyond Bhawan. Initially, the ponies, pithus and palkis will not be allowed to ply on the tracks.

Free langar at Tarakote Marg and Prasad Kendra at Sanjichhat will be opened for the facility of pilgrims, added the authority.

For the ease and comfort of pilgrims, all the supplementary facilities set up by the board like battery operated vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services will operate strictly by following the social distancing norms and other precautionary measures.

In order to avoid congregational gatherings, booking/sitting of pilgrims in the Atka Aarti area/Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja will not be allowed until further orders. The pilgrims in the queue complexes will be allowed to move only upon the markings to maintain social distancing. The cloakrooms will be allowed to open to facilitate the pilgrims; however, blanket stores will remain closed, initially. All the above measures will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

Meanwhile, a massive sanitisation campaign has been launched by the Shrine Board right from Katra en route to Bhawan and in the Bhawan area for ensuring utmost sanitisation and cleanliness before the resumption of the yatra. In this connection, the CEO reviewed all the arrangements in regard to the resumption of the pilgrimage at a meeting of the concerned officers and engineers of the Shrine Board here on Friday. He is constantly monitoring all the aspects of the pilgrim-centric arrangements for the facilitation of the yatris. (ANI)

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