Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shrine Board reviews ongoing Amarnathji Yatra

Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board met here today under the chairmanship of Governor N.N. Vohra, who is also the Chairman of the Board. The meeting reviewed the ongoing Yatra and expressed satisfaction over the strenuous efforts made under the Governor's sustained direction for ensuring satisfactory management of the pilgrimage despite serious constraints arising from the heavy snowfalls in the preceding winter and bad weather for several weeks before the commencement of the current Yatra which commenced on 25th June 2012.

The Board Members, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Justice (Retd) G.D. Sharma, Dr. (Prof) Ved Kumari Ghai, Sunita Narain and Vijay Dhar visited the holy cave shrine early morning alongwith Navin K. Choudhary, Chief Executive Officer of the Board, to pay obeisance and to inspect the arrangements made for the Yatris. The Board Members interacted with the Yatris and Doctors running the Medical Aid Centres (MACs) to review, the obtaining arrangements for providing suitable treatment to the Yatris.

The Board meeting, attended by the CEO and the Additional CEO, Preet Pal Singh, expressed satisfaction over the enlargement of the network for the Registration of pilgrims. The Board was informed that 4,07,815 pilgrims had secured Registration uptil 22nd July 2012 as against 2,59,897 Yatris during the entire Yatra 2011 in which 6.35 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the Shrine. The Board was further informed that as against 99,315 pilgrims who had secured On-Spot Registration during Yatra 2011 as many as 93,902 had secured On-Spot Registration up to 22nd July 2012 in the ongoing Yatra.

After detailed discussion, the Board observed that while the Registration process had gained considerable headway and a significantly higher percentage of the pilgrims were arriving only after procuring Registration based on Health Certificates, further efforts would be required to ensure that 100% pilgrims arrive after procuring Registration based on valid Health Certificates in future Yatras.

As regards the casualties suffered by pilgrims, the CEO reported that, on the basis of statistics being maintained by the Shrine Board, as uptil 23rd July evening 90 pilgrims had lost their lives, 84 due to medical reasons and 6 on account of accidents within the Yatra area. Besides, 22 pilgrims had lost their lives outside the Yatra area, of whom 18 were killed in accidents.

The Board was informed that consequent to the directions of the Supreme Court in a recent Suo Motu proceeding, the Governor, as Chairman Shrine Board, had nominated Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi and Navin K. Choudhary, CEO, to represent the Shrine Board on the Special High Powered Committee (SHPC) established under the Supreme Court's order. Ms Narain will advise the SHPC on environmental issues.

The Board expressed grave concern and deep regret over Yatris losing their lives and desired the CEO to prepare a detailed critical report on the various contributory causes where after, as necessary, the Board may convene a Special Meeting to discuss this matter in full detail. The Board observed that while all necessary steps must be taken to ensure against loss of life in the coming years it is imperative to reckon the harsh climatic conditions of the high Himalayan altitudes through which the pilgrims have to trek. In this context the Board observed that the implications of early commencement of the Yatra would have to be seriously revisited.

The Board observed that more vigorous measures may require to be enforced to prevent the loss of pilgrims' lives.

The Board expressed satisfaction over the measures taken to ensure progressive improvement in sanitation and maintaining of cleanliness at all Camp locations and along the tracks. In this context, Chairman requested Sunita Narain to pay an early visit to the Yatra area, before the conclusion of the ongoing pilgrimage to review the sewage treatment at first hand and advise regarding further improvement.

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