Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is mulling on increasing the number of pilgrims from outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir from the current 100 to 200 or more.
In view of the Centre’s strict COVID-19 protocol, only 2000 pilgrims can visit the holy shrine in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir at present. Of these 2000, 1900 are from within the Union Territory and only 100 pilgrims from other states can visit the revered shrine.
Ramesh Kumar Jangid, Chief Executing Officer of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Jammu and Kashmir, said, “We have kept outsider capacity at 100. This will be reviewed this week. This is expected to be increased. The maximum limit can be 500 till September if allowed”.
The Shrine Board has also come up with protocols for the pilgrimage for the non-J&K residents, which includes carrying a COVID-19 negative report which is not more than 48 hours old and only online registration of the pilgrims. They can register themselves by visiting the official website of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.
In accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ COVID-19 guidelines, children below 10 years, persons above 60, and those with comorbidity, pregnant women are not allowed to travel to the shrine.
At all entry points, the pilgrims will undergo thermal scanning and, all along with the route and even at the holy cave, strict adherence to the COVID-19 rules and social distancing norms is required.
The devotees without mask or face cover are not allowed at the shrine, and at every location, the Boared has kept santisers for them to sanitise their hands.
The pilgrimage to the revered Vaishno Devi Shrine resumed earlier this month on August 16.
Helicopter services to the shrine have also started but due to lesser number of pilgrims, no chopper has flown yet. The Shrine Board is mulling to put helicopter services as an option during online registration for the pilgrimage.