J&K govt issues on-the-spot permits to pilgrims

With heavy rush of unregistered Amarnath pilgrims making way to Pahalgam and Baltal base camps, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department has started issuing on-the-spot permissions to tourists and pilgrims.

“In order to facilitate tourists and locals to visit to Pahalgam and Sonmarg, the Department of Tourism has started on-the-spot-permissions at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar,” an official release of the tourism department said.

The release said tourists and locals other than Amarnath pilgrims, who want to visit these places for a day trip, should contact the Tourism Department to obtain the permission in order to avoid any inconvenience.

Official sources said the decision to issue permission letters to tourists for visiting Pahalgam and Sonamarg was taken as large number of unregistered Amarnath pilgrims were trying to proceed for the Yatra.

More than 23,000 unregistered pilgrims or those with registration for later dates were turned back from various access control gates in the first two days of the Yatra.

Sources said a significant number of pilgrims succeeded in breaking through the access control gate at Chandanwari on the first day of the pilgrimage on Friday.
However, officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board(SASB) did not respond to the queries about the incident.

The board, in a release on Saturday, said it has set up 14 current registration counters at the Pantha Chowk and TRC Nowgam for unregistered pilgrims to get registration.

Access control from the base camps has been strengthened this year on directions of the Supreme Court, which endorsed  recommendations of the Special High Powered Committee. The chief executive officer and additional CEO have refused to entertain queries from the media personnel. “I cannot be answering questions from media every other minute. Please have mercy on us. We will be issuing press release every day in the evening,” CEO of the SASB N K Choudhary said.

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