With many Amarnath-bound pilgrims losing their lives due to health problems the board managing the yatra has decided that devotees will now onwards produce a medical certificate at the time of registration.
The decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra last evening an official spokesperson said.
During the meeting loss of life of pilgrims due to cardiac arrest was discussed. "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 had come to consider a more effective approach and decide that every person seeking registration to undertake the yatra must furnish a health certificate issued by a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP).
"The Board noted that the enforcement of such a pre-condition had also been advised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) " the spokesperson said. This year the yatra will be for 37 days beginning from June 25 and will conclude on August two coinciding with Raksha Bandhan as has been recommended by a sub-committee of SASB headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shanker.
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.
"Consequent to detailed deliberations the Board accepted the recommendations of the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar sub-Committee and directed the CEO of the Board to timely commence the registration of pilgrims and ensure the effective management of the Yatra which would commence on June 25 and conclude on Raksha Bandhan on August two " the spokesperson said.
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 yatras.
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 the spokesman said.