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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Better medical facilities for Amarnath yatris this year

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, May 14, 2013
First Published: 18:59 IST(14/5/2013) | Last Updated: 19:07 IST(14/5/2013)

The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and the state government are working on a series of measures to reduce chances of any casualty of intending pilgrims this year.

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The shrine board is working on a multi-layer medicare facility. There will be prefabricated clinics, with accommodation for doctors for the first time, after every 2 km on the treacherous 42-km stretch between Chandanwari and the Amarnath shrine.

A three-tier health care system will be in place, which includes emergency aid, medical help and the base hospital. The ambulance service has also been upgraded for quick action in case of emergencies.

"We are mulling a plan where those states that send the highest number of pilgrims will also dispatch team of doctors to augment medical care to lessen burden on the state's doctors," said a senior officer privy to recent meeting on fresh measures. The state government is expecting batches of doctors from Haryana and New Delhi.

A high-level team of experts of the emergency services department in New Delhi visited Kashmir last week to take stock of the preparations of the 58-day long yatra scheduled to start from June 28. Around 50 doctors and paramedics underwent high-altitude training recently.

Unlike the past, only those doctors, clinics and government institutes registered with the board and mentioned on its website can issue necessary health certificate. There will be no on-arrival registration on the routes to the shrine, except in Jammu and Srinagar.

Around 100 pilgrims lost life last year. A number of cases surfaced where pilgrims without health certificate or registrations had made it to the shrine.

The Supreme Court took cognisance of the media reports of pilgrim deaths, including the Hindustan Times' reportage, and asked the board to provide better medical facilities to the pilgrims. It has fixed the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine on a particular day at 7,500 this year.

The board has decided to put in fresh checks to allow only healthy pilgrims. "Children less than 13 years old, persons above 75 years old and women more than six-week pregnancy shall not be allowed," said the fresh directions.

The board is still grappling on how to make pilgrims from the plains to acclimatise with the trekking height of 14,000 feet where the shrine is situated. There are only two acclimatisation points, Nunwan and Sheshnag.

"A month prior to the yatra, pilgrims should walk 4 to 5 km to improve oxygen efficiency of the body. They should start deep breathing exercises and yoga, particularly Pranayam," said the board directive.
 
Routes to holy shrine
Pahalgam route: This is the longest and the traditional route to the holy cave shrine. The distance of the holy cave shrine from Pahalgam is 42km.

Baltal Route: This is the shortest route and the most preferred route to the cave shrine. However, the 14-km route to the cave shrine is arduous and narrow as compared to the other route. 

This year, the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine on a particular day has been fixed at 7,500. The 58-day long yatra is scheduled to start from June 28.

For pilgrims's safety
Prefabricated health clinics after every 2 km on 42-km stretch between Chandanwari and Amarnath shrine

Three-tier health care system to be in place; ambulance service upgraded for quick action in case of emergencies

Doctors from other states to augment medical care and lessen burden on the state doctors

Children less than 13 years old, persons above 75 years old and women more than six-week pregnancy will not be allowed

No on-arrival registration on the routes to the shrine, except in Jammu and Srinagar.

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