SRINAGAR, June 10: Fresh snow in the upper reaches of Kashmir is being cleared to keep Amarnath Yatra track ready by June 25, when this year’s yatra to the shrine will commence, Navin K. Choudhary, chief executive officer of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), said.
Fresh snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday had hit the work of clearing the track.
‘We are confident that we would clear all routes to holy cave by June 25. I cannot predict what turn the weather takes but our effort will be to keep the track ready by June 25,’ Choudhary said.
‘It has been continuously snowing and raining for the past several days in the area, which is unusual,’ he added.
The situation is unlikely to improve in the coming days. The Met department has forecast rains and thundershowers between Saturday and Wednesday. The 39-day-long pilgrimage will conclude on August 2, coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
The yatris have to pass through Anantnag town, 62 km south of Srinagar, to reach the base camp in Pahalgam. Pilgrims scheduled to take the route through Sonamarg have to reach the Baltal base camp, around 120 km south of Srinagar.
The SASB has asked pilgrims who intend to make the arduous journey, which involves climbing up to nearly 14,000 feet, to undergo medical check-ups.
On Thursday, the SASB convened a meeting of the officials in Srinagar to review the condition of the road. The meeting was informed that on the Chandanwari- Mahagunas Top-Panjtarni axis, 18 feet of snow has accumulated.
‘While work is underway for the clearance of the track, it has been cautioned that the complete removal of snow from the track in one go will at this stage, lead to formation of steep walls of snow, which could prove dangerous in case of wind storm or snow avalanches,’ the SASB statement said.
Governor N.N. Vohra, who is also chairman of the SASB, has directed the CEO to take necessary steps to hasten work by extending shifts, to ensure clear the track before the yatra commences.
Meanwhile, the home ministry and the J&K government have turned down a suggestion from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to advance the commencement of the yatra to June 17, saying there is still a lot of snow on the track.
In a 19-page report submitted to the SASB, a committee headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had proposed that the board make an internal assessment between June 1 and June 7 of the status of the snow melt and explore in consultation with other stakeholders the possibility of allowing pilgrims to commence the yatra from June 17.
‘In fact, even the scheduled start from June 25 looks a bit uncertain,’ a senior home ministry official said.