L-G chairs Vaishno Devi board meeting; several decisions taken for safety of pilgrims
A day after a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine left 12 people dead, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Sunday chaired a special meeting of the shrine board here and advised for roping in technical experts and adopting best crowd management practices for the safety of the pilgrims.
The meeting also discussed the modalities for suspension bridge, a ropeway and skywalk for effective queue management, besides identifying more halting spots to cater to large crowds at the Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan and Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the shrine atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district, an official spokesman said.
Twelve pilgrims were killed and over a dozen others injured in a first-ever stampede at the shrine during the New Year rush in the early hours of Saturday.
The spokesman said the Lt Governor, who is also the Chairman of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), critically reviewed the causative factors leading to the stampede incident and the various steps taken immediately thereafter by the management of Board.
''A slew of directives were issued for physical and systematic improvements wherever required after critical examination,'' the spokesman said.
He said the board directed the Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, Ramesh Kumar for taking urgent action on diverse fronts including effective crowd management, augmentation of infrastructure, making booking of yatra 100 per cent through online mode, working out plans for decongestion of the entire track, particularly the Bhawan area, separation of entry and exit routes at Bhawan.
The spokesman said Sinha emphasized on appropriate use of technology and putting in place RFID Tracking systems for effective crowd and queue management.
He also advised for roping in technical experts and adopting best crowd management practices.
Members of the shrine board -- Ashok Bhan; Justice (Retd) Permod Kohli, Maj Gen (Retd) S K. Sharma, K K Sharma, K B Kachru and Vijay Dhar -- and the Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, attended the meeting, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the meeting appreciated the commendable post-incident efforts of the board, district administration and police personnel towards the quick rescue and timely shifting of the injured to the shrine board's hospital at Kakryal.
The board felt that as a consequence of these efforts, a number of lives were saved, he said.
The spokesman said the board was briefed by the Chief Executive Officer of the shrine board that 35,000 pilgrims were allowed to proceed for the Yatra on December 31 and January 1 as against the National Green Tribunal's cap of 50,000 a day, keeping in view the pandemic.
While reviewing the status of release of compensation amount to the victims, the board decided to provide an additional amount of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the pilgrims who lost their lives in the tragic incident, the spokesman said.
An ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh was already announced by the Lt Governor on Saturday.
The spokesman said the board directed the CEO for making concerted efforts towards early implementation of the master plan for the Bhawan area in a phased manner strictly in accordance to the timelines and also reiterated for expediting construction work and early completion of 'Durga' Bhawan for the pilgrims.
Directions were issued for carrying out required improvisations in the second and third phases of the master plan to take care of all foreseen challenges, the spokesman said.
He said the meeting discussed the modalities for suspension bridge and skywalk for effective queue management, besides identifying more halting spots to cater to large crowds at Bhawan and Katra.
The board also considered various suggestions for making requisite improvements that can be carried out to safeguard against similar mishaps in future, the spokesman said.
He said discussions were also held on exploring possibilities of ropeway from Katra for the aged and infirm pilgrims.
The CEO was asked to consider resumption of the token/group number system that was discontinued six years ago, the spokesman said.
He said the board also directed for early undertaking of an exercise for critically examining the safety audit of physical infrastructure and fire safety at main Bhawan, shopping complex and other important areas.
The members of the board will monitor the implementation of directions and works to be undertaken, the spokesman said.
He said the meeting ended with two minutes of silence, praying for the pilgrims who lost their lives in the stampede.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)