To regulate the rush of the devotees performing the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi, authorities have 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 Saturday's first-ever stampede at Bhawan of the cave shrine in which 12 devotees were killed and 15 other injured.

During the meeting of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, it was decided that pilgrims who have online registration would be allowed to perform Yatra.

Sources said that after the decision of the Board, directions have been issued to the authorities concerned that only those who have online registration slips should be allowed to cross the Ban-Ganga entrance gate.

LG Manoj Sinha
Lt General Manoj Sinha takes stock of post stampede situation at Mata Vaishno Devi ShrineDIPR J&K

CEO Shrine Board directed to take crowd management steps

The Board directed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shrine Board for taking urgent action on diverse fronts including effective crowd management, augmentation of infrastructure, working out plans for decongestion of the entire track, particularly the Bhawan area, separation of entry and exit routes at Bhawan.

It was emphasized on the appropriate use of technology and putting in place the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system for effective crowd and queue management. Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, who is chairman of the Shrine Board advised for roping in technical experts and adopting best crowd management practices.

Vaishno Devi Shrine Stampede

Board to explore the possibility of ropeway from Katra to Bhawan

During the meeting, discussions were also held on exploring possibilities of ropeway from Katra for the aged and infirm pilgrims.

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 with the timelines and also reiterated for expediting construction work and early completion of Durga Bhawan for the pilgrims.

The Board discussed the modalities for suspension bridge and skywalk for effective queue management, besides identifying more halting spots to cater to a large crowd 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 the future.

The CEO was asked to consider the resumption of the token/group number system that was discontinued six years ago. The Board also directed for the 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 Shrine Board will monitor the implementation of directions and works to be undertaken.