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Governor N N Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), chaired a special meeting of the Jammu based Members of the Board to decide several urgent matters relating to the major on-going development projects.

The meeting, held at the Raj Bhavan Srinagar, was attended by Dr S S Bloeria, Dr Ashok Bhan, H L Maini, Justice (Retd) Permod Kohli and Maj Gen (Retd) Shiv Kumar Sharma, all Jammu based Members of the Board; Dr M K Bhandari, Secretary Health and Medical Education, attended as special invitee; A K Sahu, CEO of the Board, Dr PiyushSingla and Dr M.K. Kumar, Additional CEOs, participated in the discussions, an official spokesperson said this evening.

The Board Meeting dealt with an extensive Agenda relating to the current status of each of the major on-going infrastructure development projects in the Shrine area and a number of other important matters relating to the expansion of facilities for the pilgrims to the Shrine.

The Meeting discussed the preparation of the Master Plan of the entire Shrine area and the area adjoining the Super Speciality Hospital at Kakryal where a College of Nursing is also functioning and planning is already under way to create autonomous complexes for the College of Nursing and for the proposed establishment of the Medical College.

The meeting advised the CEO to ensure that work to finalise the projected Master Plan, being prepared by the School of Architecture, New Delhi, is concluded well within the agreed time frame and to ensure that it takes into account all existing structures, all projects presently under implementation and all the pipeline projects which are still to be finalised and executed.

The meeting spent considerable time in discussing the current state of development in Sira and Kakryal villages and directed the CEO to have Master Plans prepared for each of the two areas to identify the basic amenities which have still not been provided: particularly lanes, drains, street lights etc and, thereafter, to urgently bring up the same for approval and time bound execution.

The meeting recognised that there has been a progressive increase in vehicular and other traffic to Kakryal after the opening of the Shrine Board’s Super Speciality Hospital and the College of Nursing and, in this context, decided that both the roads connecting Kakryal, from the Domel and Manthal axis, should be beautified and illuminated for the benefit of the Hospital staff, patients, students of the College of Nursing and the public at large.

The meeting also approved CEO’s proposal to incur expenditure to upgrade the skills and capacity building of the Poniwallas, Palkiwallas, Pithus, to enable them to acquire the requisite professional capacity to render satisfactory services to the pilgrims.

The meeting discussed the offer of the Northern Railways for the Shrine board to establish, next to the Railway Station Katra, certain facilities which would provide added convenience to Yatris travelling by rail.

After discussion the CEO was asked to draw up a well-considered proposal to develop waiting and resting, toilet and eating facilities for the low budget pilgrims who cannot afford to stay in guest houses and hotels. CEO was also asked to secure an appropriate legally binding commitment from the Railways in regard to the Shrine Board’s utilisation of the offered area of land.

The meeting approved the CEO’s proposal for a major project being implemented to replace the existing HT and LT overhead electricity lines by underground cabling to ensure uninterrupted power supply and to see that no accidents take place along the Tracks and in the Bhavan area.

The CEO was also advised to take time bound action to replace all existing CFL and fluorescent lights by LED bulbs which should be procured under the UJALA scheme recently implemented by the State Government.

The meeting took note of the on-going Phase-II infrastructure development of the Gurukul and approved the expenditures to be incurred to establish the required facilities.

The meeting reviewed the on-going construction of the new Tarakote Track and directed the CEO to ensure that all work was completed before 31st December this year.

The proposal to construct the Nivedita Bhavan-II to provide accommodation for the Nursing students to be admitted in 2017 was also approved.

The Chairman had requested Parvez Dewan, former Union Tourism Secretary and, later, Adviser to Governor, to undertake a detailed tour of the entire Shrine area and recommend all required measures which could be taken for further improving the existing facilities for the pilgrims and, besides, promoting tourism in the region.

The meeting had extended discussions on the exhaustive recommendations contained in Dewan’s report and accepted most of the recommendations, particularly those which relate to further speeding up the movement of pilgrims at various locations and augmenting of the cloakroom facilities.

The meeting took note of CEO’s report about recent protestations against the Shrine Board by the local political representatives and others.

It was noted that the essential complaint related to the demand for a link road being constructed to connect the existing DarshaniDeori – Adhkuwari Track with the new Tarakote Track. After examining the layout plan of the existing and upcoming facilities the meeting asked the CEO to contact the concerned persons and secure their views/recommendations in writing along with a layout plan which specifically indicates the location and alignment of the demanded link road.

It was decided that as soon as the CEO was able to get the required information the Members of the Shrine Board would invite MLA Reasi for a discussion to gain better understanding of the issues involved so that an early decision could be taken in the matter.

The meeting spent considerable time in discussing the CEO’s proposals regarding the missing elements in the civic infrastructure of Katra Municipal Committee. It was decided that when the Board Members meet MLA Reasi they would also discuss the development proposal under reference for a final view being taken.

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