JAMMU: The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has begun drills for putting in place SoPs that will be followed once pilgrimage to the cave shrine in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir resumes.
The pilgrimage to the shrine in Reasi district was stopped on March 18 in view of the spread of coronavirus. It will resume only after a direction to that effect is issued by the Union Home Ministry.
"Drills in connection with standard operating procedures (SoPs) have begun at cave shrines and en route as a process of guidelines. The pilgrimage will start only when directions from the Home Ministry are issued," an official of the shrine board said.
The markers of social distancing are being painted, horse owners and their animals are undergoing medical check ups and other safety measures are being put in places en route to and at the cave shrine, officials said.
They said the board is considering online registration of devotees, while GPS-enabled systems are also under consideration for real-time tracking of pilgrims to ensure that they adhere to social distancing measures.
The board is also putting in place door-mounted thermal scanners at multiple places while the bed capacity at free dormitories is being reduced temporarily to implement social distancing norms.
Only families will be permitted to use paid lodging facilities to reduce the chances of the spread of the infection. Similar drills are being carried at Mata Kali temple at Bahufort in Jammu.
The Central government has allowed reopening of shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services along with the places of religious worship to people from June 8.
However, these facilities will not be able to resume operations inside containment zones designated by authorities in states and additionally, the resumption of these activities is conditional to the standard operating procedures to be released by the Union Health Ministry, according to a government notification.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)