The 60-day long annual yatra to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir Himalayas will commence on June 28, the shrine board said today. This year's yatra will be longer by 20 days against last year's 40 days. "The Board decided that a 60-day long Yatra would commence on June 28, on the auspicious day of Jyestha Purnima, as per Hindu Calendar, and, as per continuing tradition, conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 26," a spokesman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said today. This was decided by Jammu and Kashmir Governor and chairman of the SASB, N N Vohra, who presided over the 34th meeting of the shrine board held in New Delhi. Governor Vohra presided over the meeting of the board to discuss implementation of the directions recently passed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in regard to the conduct of Shri Amarnathji Yatra and to decide the further course of action. After deliberation, the board decided to file a review petition against the NGT's directions issued on December 13 and 14, 2017. The NGT on December 13, 2017, had declared the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas as a "silence zone" and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point. However, on December 14, the tribunal clarified that it has not imposed any restriction including on chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans inside the cave shrine, following protests over its decision. The NGT had said the only restriction imposed was that any devotee or any individual should maintain silence while standing in front of the "Amarnath Ji Maha Shivling", a natural formation in the cave. The board also decided that 7,500 Yatris per day on each of the two routes would be allowed to secure advance registration for the pilgrimage, the spokesman said, adding it excludes pligrims who would travel by helicopters. The advance registration of pilgrims will start begin on March 1, he said. The Board reviewed the action plan drawn up for the conduct of Yatra 2018, particularly the arrangements which are being made for providing medical care, sanitation facilities and installation of the railings at all vulnerable points along each of the two routes. Board members H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Kapila Vatsyayan, Ved Kumari Ghai, Bhajan Sopori, Vijay Dhar, Sunita Narain, Devi Prasad Shetty, D C Raina, Chander Mouli Raina, its Chief Executive Officer Umang Narula, Additional CEO Bhupinder Kumar and other senior officers took part in the meeting.
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