To monitor the movement and numbers of devotees visiting the cave shrine, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSDB) has started the trial of the Radio Frequency Identity Card (RIFD) to introduce this system as early as possible. The RFID facility will replace the existing ongoing Yatra slip format.
RFID is based on a wireless technology used for tracking through radio waves. The tags can carry encrypted information, serial numbers, and short descriptions.
Every year around one crore pilgrims from all over the country and abroad pay obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi cave Shrine situated in Trikuta Hills at Katra base camp in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Anshul Garg, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SMVDSB, told a news agency that the RIFD system will be introduced to keep track of pilgrims, especially those who go missing or separate from groups or families at the time of rush.
The CEO informed us that the trials in this regard are already in progress and in the coming weeks, it will be completely launched. He further said that trails are already on for which a counter is installed and the pilgrims are being issued the RFID cards. It will be a one-time use card that will be deposited to the devotees after completing their pilgrimage at the exit point.
Online registration has already been made mandatory for Yatra
To regulate the rush of the devotees performing the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi, authorities have already closed all booking counters of "Yatra slips" after making online registration mandatory to proceed towards Bhawan from Katra.
The decision to close all registration counters has taken after the first-ever stampede at Bhawan of the cave shrine on January 1, 2022, in which 12 devotees were killed and 15 others injured. It was already decided that pilgrims who have online registration would be allowed to perform Yatra beyond the Ban-Ganga entrance gate.
Shrine Board asked to take crowd management steps
After the January 1 stampede, the SMVDSB was directed to take urgent action on diverse fronts including effective crowd management, augmentation of infrastructure, and working out plans for decongestion of the entire track, particularly the Bhawan area, separation of entry and exit routes at Bhawan.
It emphasized the appropriate use of technology and putting in place the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system for effective crowd and queue management.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, who is chairman of the Shrine Board had advised roping in technical experts and adopting best crowd management practices.
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, on July 28 also laid the foundation of the Yatri Queue Management System (Sky Walk) and other infra projects of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine. Sinha was also apprised by the CEO about proposed solutions like RFID-based tracking and dispatching pilgrims in batches among a few others.