KATHMANDU: The Pashupati Area Development Trust has conceived a plan to charge Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 from dev-otees who wish to avoid serpantine queues to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri, whi-ch falls on February 12.
Sushil Nahata, member-secretary of the PADT, told THT: "We have formed a special sub-committee to finalise the structure of fees for the devotees."
According to PADT, it today formed an 11-member main committee for work execution and 12 sub-committees on security, food and lodging and health service to ensure Mahashivaratri festivities go on smoothly. "The committees comprise CDO of Kathmandu, representatives from security forces and social organisations," said Nahata.
Lakhs of devotees throng the Pashupatinath Temple on the occasion of which many are forced to return home without entering the temple due to endless queues of devotees. "There will be a separate gate for those willing to pay the fee for darshan this year," said Sunil Kumar Banshal, member of the PADT. "The pass system, which was misused in the past, will be scrapped," he said.
The fee-paying devotees should arrive on the appointed hour. "However, everything is yet to be finalised. We will publicise the details through a press conference," added Nahata.
Narottam Baidya, treasurer of the PADT, said it was thinking of establishing the PADT as an international religious centre to attract some 2 billion Hindus from around the world. "It will help earn billions of rupees from religious and non-religious tourists," he said. "The sum will be spent on education and social services."
A new regulation will be prepared to maintain transparency in the PADT, said Baidya.
Some popular Indian shrines — Tirupati, Jagannathpuri and Vaishno Devi — also charge devotees who wish to avoid long queues between IRs 25 and IRs 5,000.
Bidur Paudel, VC of Nepal Sanskrit University, said, "Ordinary people should not be charged at any cost."Dr Minendra Rijal, Minister for Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture, said the government would provide special security on Mahashivaratri.