20 lakh Vaishno Devi pilgrims go high-tech for hiring ponies

20 lakh Vaishno Devi pilgrims go high-tech for hiring ponies

The hi-tech computerised pre-paid management system, integrated with CCTV cameras and videoconferencing facilities, for hiring ponies, pithoos and palkis (palanquins), which was launched by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) for the facilitation of pilgrims, has completed one year of its successful operation.

More than 20 lakh pilgrims have availed the facility of this 24×7 hi-tech system which was commissioned on February 26 last year.

Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SMVDSB, reviewed the functioning of the pre-paid system at a meeting of the officers concerned of the shrine board here today.

He stressed for bringing about further improvements in the system, by technological interventions, wherever possible, for further facilitation of the pilgrims, who avail the services of ponies, pithoos and palkis during the pilgrimage.

The system has integrated 10 pre-paid counters from Katra to Bhairon, located at an average distance of 1.75 km from each other at Katra, Banganga, Charan-Paduka, Adhkuwari-I, Adhkuwari-II, Sanjichhat, Satya, Parvati Bhawan at Bhawan, Pony Stand Bhawan and Bhairon, from where the pilgrims get pony, pithoo and palki services at pre-determined rates.

“The entire monitoring of the pre-paid system is done from the monitoring station located at Katra. The pre-paid counters also serve as grievance registration centres for the pilgrims. The grievances are conveyed to the shrine board administration at Katra in escalation format. RFID readers and scanners installed at these 10 locations get actual number of ponies on the track on a given day,” an official spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added, “Each pilgrim is also provided a helmet, elbow and knee pads to provide preventive cover against any accidental injury.”

The pre-paid system has eliminated any chances of overcharging by the service providers and ensures that they charge only as per the rates of ponies, pithoos and palkis fixed by the district administration, Reasi, for these services.

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