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Over 1.5L bookings in 26 days for Amarnath pilgrimage

New Delhi: The upcoming Amarnath yatra, which was suspended for the past two years due to Covid, appears to have generated much enthusiasm among pilgrims with over 1.5 lakh registrations made for the annual pilgrimage in the first 26 days of the opening of bookings.
This marks a 249% jump over the total 43,038 bookings received during the corresponding period of 2019 when the Amarnath yatra was last conducted.
In 2019, 13,298 bookings were received in the first week since the start of registration, with the cumulative figure rising to 25,832 in the second week, 34,98 in the third, and 43,038 in 26 days.
This year, 35,595 pilgrims registered in the first week since the bookings opened on April 11, which grew to 88,014 pilgrims in the second week, around 1.3 lakh by the third week, and 1.5 lakh at the end of 26 days. In percentage terms, cumulative yatra bookings were 168% higher as compared to 2019 in the first week, 241% higher by the second week, up 278% by the third week, and up 249% till 26 days.
"People are showing great interest in participation as the pilgrimage resumes after a two-year gap. Even in 2019, the yatra had to be cut short ahead of the abrogation of Article 370. We are expecting around six lakh yatris this year," a senior J&K government official told. The carrying capacity for pilgrims has already been increased by 60% in both the Jammu region and Kashmir region.
Apart from reviewing security threats to the yatra and neutralizing them on a dynamic basis, the Central and the state security establishments are busy chalking out a detailed forces deployment plan along the yatra routes.
Among the new initiatives, this year are radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and insurance cover for all the pilgrims. Even the ponies which carry the pilgrims to the holy cave will be insured. The 'mandatory' RFID tags will help track the movements and location of each pilgrim from the integrated control room being set up in Srinagar. At a first, as many as eight 'tent townships'-in the lines of Kumbh Mela-will be set up along the route of the yatra with tents and pre-fabricated structures to accommodate yatris on a payment basis. These will be in addition to free government accommodation available to the pilgrims.
Mindful of persisting Covid threat, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board chaired by J&K LG Manoj Sinha has approved a major upgrade in health facilities along the route, including setting up of oxygen booths. Isolation facilities are being created at Sheshnag. Baltal and Chananwari and two 30-bed makeshift hospitals will come up at Baltal and Chandanwari. Similarly, a 100-bed makeshift hospital is also being created at Srinagar for the yatris.
Other upgrades in Amarnath facilities include the laying of an optic fiber cable (OFC) network from Anantnag to the holy cave and around 42 new towers along the yatra route for better connectivity.

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