Srinagar: The J&K administration on Saturday said that a maximum of 500 pilgrims can be allowed to undertake the Amarnath Yatra this month.
Reviewing arrangements for the pilgrimage, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that the “yatra this year would have to be undertaken in a restricted manner so that the SoPs for COVID-19 are strictly adhered to” during the period.
Pointing out that SoPs — prescribing 100 per cent RTPCR test for all those travelling to J&K from across the country and their quarantine till they are tested negative — will be applicable to the pilgrims as well, the Chief Secretary observed that distancing norms would further strain the camping facilities used earlier as those are being used as quarantine centres.
“Given the constraints, a maximum of 500 yatris only could be allowed per day by road from Jammu. Therefore, arrangements will have to be limited to this number,” he said at a meeting of the sub committee constituted by the Supreme Court for the pilgrimage.
While the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board is yet to make a formal announcement regarding the date the pilgrimage will begin, sources said the duration is likely to be for only 15 days in view of the pandemic.
The yatra is likely to start on July 21 only on Baltal route and culminate on Raksha Bandhan on August 3, sources said. Helicopter sorties to the cave shrine will only be allowed from Baltal, sources said. More than 5,000 pilgrims each were allowed to proceed daily to the cave during the yatra last year from Baltal and Pahalgam routes.