On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha chaired a meeting of the newly constituted Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), which discussed and approved various proposals related to facilities for the devotees to make their pilgrimage hassle-free, officials said.

The new facilities and upgradation work will ensure that pilgrims worldwide have access to state-of-the-art amenities, and the connection between the local economy and pilgrimage is further strengthened, the Lt Governor said.

He said efforts are being made to create modern facilities like a skywalk, a new Durga Bhawan, spiritual theme parks and services such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag for devotees within a stipulated time frame for a pleasant experience.

Sinha said the number of devotees from India and abroad visiting the holy shrine is continuously breaking records.

Reviewing the ongoing projects of the shrine board, Sinha directed adhering to the timelines for the completion of ongoing projects, including Durga Bhawan.

To avoid congestion at the Bhawan, inter-alia due to crisscrossing of pilgrims, it was decided to have a multidirectional flow through measures such as ‘yatra queue management’ (skywalk), which would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 9.89 crore.

An official spokesperson said the project should have a total length of about 160-170 metres and a width of 2.5 metres with two rescue areas.

While approving the proposals relating to Operation and Maintenance of Passenger Ropeway through Messrs Garaventa AG, Switzerland and Messrs Damodar Ropeways Construction Co (P) Ltd, Kolkata, the board asked the chief executive officer to ensure that there is no slowdown regarding the safety of passengers.

Reviewing the proposals relating to the Slope Stabilisation Project, the Lt Governor directed that rather than going in a phased manner, the entire stabilisation work must be duly assessed and executed in one go.

The Annual Greening Plan for 2022-23 was also reviewed and approved by the board, the spokesperson said.

Keeping in view that the offerings and donations are the mainstay of the income of the shrine board and are utilised for creating infrastructural facilities for pilgrims as well as general upkeep and maintenance of the shrine, the SMVDSB has approved a ‘corporate donation policy.

The spokesperson said that the policy is based on the suggestions received from various segments of devotees.

He said the proposal of the passenger ropeway between Katra and Adhkuwari for the benefit of pilgrims, particularly senior citizens, was also discussed in the meeting.

The board expressed a unanimous view that this added facility for pilgrims would certainly increase the footfall of pilgrims and benefit the local businesses and entrepreneurs, he said.

The board reviewed the Master Plan of the Bhawan area, various underway projects, yatra statistics and trends and emphasised timely completion of augmenting the facilities for pilgrims.

The board desired the early appointment of a suitable incumbent to the post of director (enforcement and security) and to ensure that the post remains filled at all points of time, to ensure that the critical aspects of security, enforcement and crowd management are adequately addressed continuingly, the spokesperson said.

Last month, the Lt Governor, who is also the chairman of the SMVDSB, reconstituted the board and nominated eight personalities from various walks of life as members for three years.

The eight members include AIMIL Pharmaceuticals Chairman KK Sharma, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Vishveshvaranand Giriji Maharaj of Mumbai, retired IPS officer Ashok Bhan, retired IAS officer Baleshwar Rai and retired judge Suresh Kumar Sharma of Jammu.