For better management of pilgrims and pony vendors at the Mata Vaishnodevi shrine in Trikuta hills, a system based on smart-card and biometrics would soon be put in place.
Municipal Committee Katra (MCK) has floated Request for Proposal (RFP) for Visitor-Pony management system for pilgrims at Vaishnodevi shrine to have a stricter control over vendors, for the benefit of devotees.
The system will be put in place for 18-km Katra-Bhawan-Bharov stretch of route to cave shrine. The RFP has been invited from companies which have national presence for regulation of ponies, potters, delivery schedules, technical and commercial terms.
The MCK has over 25,000 pony vendors who ferry roughly 35 lakh pilgrims, out of over one crore pilgrims visiting the cave shrine annually. Currently,
the committee manages the visitor and the vendors (ponywalas) manually, in which the vendors get paid according to the distance they have travelled.
Katra Town, located at an altitude of about 2,500 feet above sea level, is the base camp for the Yatra. This is the last point up till which any type of modern transport can go (except the recently started Helicopter service, which takes the pilgrims right till Sanjichhat, just a couple of kilometres from the shrine).
From here a trek of around 18 kilometres takes a pilgrim to Bharov, which can be completed on foot or on horses and ponies or on palanquins. The technology would be applied on this route.