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Lt Guv chairs Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board meeting

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Board discusses, approves various proposals related to facilities for the devotees

AMMU: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Tuesday chaired the meeting of newly constituted Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, here at Raj Bhawan.
The Lt Governor, who is also the Chairman of SMVDSB, while welcoming the members of the reconstituted board, complimented the efforts put-in by former members and lauded their commitment and valuable contributions.
During the meeting, the Board discussed and approved various proposals related to facilities for the devotees to make their pilgrimage hassle-free.
The new members of the Shrine Board gave their valuable suggestions for developing and continually upgrading the pilgrim-centric facilities.
Efforts are being made to create modern facilities like skywalk, new Durga Bhawan, spiritual theme park and services such as RFID tag for devotees within a stipulated time-frame for the pleasant divine experience, said the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor observed that the number of devotees visiting holy shrine from India and abroad is continuously breaking records. The new facilities and upgradation works will ensure that pilgrims from the world over have access to state-of-the-art amenities and connect between local economy and pilgrimage is further strengthened, added the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor while reviewing the ongoing projects of the Shrine Board, directed for adhering to the timelines for the completion of ongoing projects including Durga Bhawan.
With the aim of avoiding congestion at Bhawan, inter-alia due to criss-crossing of pilgrims, it was decided to have multidirectional flow through measures such as “Yatra Queue Management (Sky Walk)” which would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs.9.89 cr. The project to be executed through CPWD, shall have a total length of 160-170 m approx. and width of 2.5 m with two rescue areas.
During the discussion regarding developing a Spiritual Theme Park in or around Katra, the Lt Governor observed that having such a facility would prolong the stay of pilgrims, giving a fillip to the town’s economy. The Board asked the CEO to take expeditious steps for early start of the Theme Park.
A brief appraisal of peripheral institutions like SMVDNS Hospital, SMVD College of Nursing, SMVD Gurukul and SMVD Sports Complex was presented in the meeting. The board expressed deep satisfaction over the management initiatives and functioning of these institutions towards welfare of the public at large. The Lt Governor emphasized that the board may not be driven by profit considerations, yet, adequate steps must be undertaken to make these institutions self-sustaining.
The Lt Governor asked for taking appropriate action with respect to getting the curriculum in SMVD Gurukul recognized at par with other academic courses, by the JKBOSE and other relevant bodies for better outcomes and employability of the pass-outs.
He asked the CEO to bring the registered sportspersons under the ambit of Health Insurance scheme and further called for promoting the sports disciplines among the youth.
While approving the proposals relating to Operation & Maintenance of Passenger Ropeway through M/s Garaventa AG, Switzerland and M/s Damodar Ropeways Construction Co. (P) Ltd, Kolkata, the Board asked the CEO to ensure that there is no let up in regard to the safety of passengers.
The meeting was attended by all members of SMVDSB – Mahamandleshwar Shri Swami Vishveshvaranand Giriji Maharaj; Baleshwar Rai; Dr Ashok Bhan; Kul Bhushan Ahuja; Dr Neelam Sareen; K K Sharma; Suresh Kumar Sharma (Retd. Judge) and Raghu K. Mehta.
The board expressed satisfaction over the recently augmented Pilgrim Centric facilities of Niharika Complex of Shrine Board at Katra and approved additional construction of staff accommodation at Katra and Adhkuwari.
Reviewing the proposals relating to Slope Stabilization Project, the Lt Governor directed that rather than going in a phased manner, the entire stabilization work must be duly assessed and executed in one go.
The Annual Greening Plan for the year 2022-23 was also reviewed and approved by the Board.
The board, keeping in view that the offerings and donations are the mainstay of the income of the Shrine Board, and are utilized for the creation of infrastructural facilities for the visiting pilgrims as well as for general upkeep and maintenance of the Holy Shrine, has approved ‘Corporate Donation Policy’. The policy is based on the suggestions received from time to time from various segments of devotees.
The proposal of the passenger ropeway between Katra and Adhkuwari for the benefit of pilgrims, particularly the senior citizens, was also discussed in the meeting. The board expressed a unanimous view that this added facility for pilgrims would certainly result in an increase in the footfall of pilgrims and would benefit the local businesses and entrepreneurs.
The board reviewed the Master Plan of Bhawan area, various underway projects, yatra statistics and trends and emphasized for timely completion of augmenting the facilities for pilgrims.
The board further desired 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, so as to ensure that the critical aspects of security, enforcement and crowd management are adequately addressed on a continuing basis.
Earlier, Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, SMVD Shrine Board gave a presentation on the to-date status of different activities and action taken in regard to implementation of various decisions of the Board taken at the previous meetings.
Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Lt Governor; Navneet Singh, Additional Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB and other senior officers of SMVDSB also attended the meeting.

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