MAKING YATRA SAFE

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22

The government has come up with slew of measures to enhance the safety of devotees visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine in Reasi District especially after the tragic stampede that snatched away lives of several people during the dawn of the first day of year 2022. In this context, already many steps have been taken to ensure that tragedy as described should not occur again in future. Going a step further, the concerned Shrine Board is now coming up with Radio Frequency Identity Cards (RFID) for pilgrims planning Yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine to keep a check on flow of devotees and ensure all necessary steps in case of emergencies. This is a good step to enhance safety of the pilgrims as real time assessment will become a reality with this facility. Besides the work on ‘Durga Bhawan’ capable of housing nearly 2k devotees was also being expedited to prevent any congestion at the revered temple complex as lately the number of devotees visiting the Shrine has increased considerably. For sure, the measures come in the wake of a stampede on New Year’s Day in which 12 people lost their lives while 16 others received injuries. This is quite necessary step as the same will ensure that devotees’ rush be managed scientifically by monitoring the same through RFID signals. This is part of physical and systematic improvements required after critical examination of the entire Yatra ecosystem. Other key factors which can enhance safety include augmentation of infrastructure, decongestion of the entire track, appropriate use of technology for effective crowd and queue management and proper usage and RFID tracking. Till date highest turnout of pilgrims was witnessed in 2012 when 1.04 crore devotees paid obeisance at the Cave Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Katra. As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone, it is likely that the number of devotees will increase considerably in the coming time and for ensuring the safety of the visiting devotees, it is necessary to take maximum precautions and the aforesaid seems to be the most important one.