Saturday, February 25, 2012

Amarnath Yatra 2012 from June 25

As recommended by the Sub-Committee of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, this year Amarnath yatra 2012 will be for 37 days beginning from June 25 and will conclude on August 2 coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.

The recommendations of the Sub-Committee, which was constituted in July 2011 to advise the Board regarding the duration and schedule of the yatra in 2012 and beyond, were accepted in the meeting of the Shrine Board held under the chairmanship of Governor, N N Vohra at New Delhi.

The Board directed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to timely commence the registration of pilgrims and ensure the effective management of the Yatra. He was also asked to arrange a Special Pooja on the day of Jyestha Purnima, which falls on June 4. This Pooja, if possible, will take place at the Holy Cave or at any other suitable location in the Yatra area.

The Board further directed that all possible efforts should be made, in coordination with all concerned agencies, to make a timely assessment to determine whether it would be feasible to consider advancing the Yatra by a few days, prior to June 25. 

In this regard, a specific review of snow melting and pace of snow clearing work would be undertaken in the first week of June. It was further resolved that if pre-ponement before June 25 is found possible, even by few days, the CEO will organize registration of Yatris through a speedy mode like on-line or even spot-registration.

The Board noted that a growingly large number of pilgrims have been losing their lives during the pilgrimage, particularly due to cardiac related ailments. As many as 45, 68 and 107 people had lost their lives in 2009, 2010 and 2011 Yatras respectively.

In this context, the Board observed that time has come to consider more effective approach and decided that pilgrims will have to furnish a health certificate issued by a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) at the time of registration. The enforcement of such a pre-condition had also been advised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The Board directed the CEO to issue a very clear advisory to inform every intending Yatri to undergo a medical check-up to assess his/her fitness for undertaking the arduous yatra. 

Referring to the helicopter services from Pahalgam to Panjtarni, which were started in 2009 on experimental basis for about two weeks before conclusion of yatra, the Board said heli services had been gainfully utilised by over 5000 yatris every year during the 2010 and 2011 pilgrimage.

The CEO informed that fresh contractual arrangements for the helicopter services from Baltal and Pahalgam to Panjtarni are being worked out and the schedules and rates would be notified shortly.

Expressing satisfaction over the measures taken for environmental protection, including the effective operation of two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), based on the eco-friendly biological treatment, at the Baltal and Nunwan base camps, the Board desired that these measures should be sustained and progressively enlarged and upgraded for the future yatras. 

It was informed in the meeting that a comprehensive plan had been drawn up in this regard, in consultation with Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi, who is also the Member of the Board. The Board also approved the proposal for significant augmentation of the toilet facilities at various camp locations in the yatra area.

All the Board members Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, Justice (Retd.) G D Sharma, Dr Sunita Narayan, Vijay Dhar, Pt Bhajan Sopori and Dr (Prof) Ved Kumari Ghai besides R K Goyal, Chief Executive Officer and Preet Pal Singh, Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board attended the meeting.

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