No Yatra registration without Health Certificate; 55 day Amarnath Yatra to begin on June 28, 2013

KL Desk

Srinagar

Amarnath Yatra 2013 is going to commence from June 28, 2013 and this time while seeking registration, Yatris would have to furnish a compulsory Health Certificate. This was stated in meeting of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board(SASB) chaired by Governor N N Vohra, who is also the board’s chairman .

To implement the decision, the board noted that the chairman had sent a personal letter to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting to seek the Ministry’s strong support for an effective education cum awareness programme being carried out through the national and regional channels of AIR and Doordarshan.

According to the official statement, the registration process should commence well ahead of the commencement of the Yatra but not later than March 1, 2013.

“Committee of medical experts drawn from the union health ministry and the state health department had designed the format of the compulsory health certificate and the Yatri shall now be required to submit information in the form of a self declaration about his/ her current health status, past medical history and various ailments from which he/she may be suffering or may have suffered in the past,” the meeting was informed by the CEO.

He further informed that for ensuring against the use of fraudulent health certificates, the compulsory health certificate would be issued only by duly authorized doctors and medical institutes and further the Certificates issued after February 1, 2013 would be valid.

The CEO informed the meeting, “that all states and UTs have been asked to furnish a list of doctors/ medical institutes who would be authorized to issue the compulsory health certificate to the eligible Yatris of the State/UT.”

During the meeting, the board noted the judgment passed by the Supreme Court on December 13, 2012 regarding the responsibilities of the central and state governments, and the shrine board, in respect of arrangements to be made for future Shri Amarnathji Yatras, commencing from 2013. It was also noted that the Supreme Court has accepted the report of Special High Powered Committee as a part of its judgment, and has constituted a Sub Committee comprising Chief Secretary, J&K; CEO, Shrine Board; and Home Secretary, J&K, to implement the directions of the apex court.

It is to be recalled that the Supreme Court had earlier constituted a Special High Powered Committee (SHPC) to review the arrangements being made for the smooth conduct of the Yatra and suggest, among other things, measures to upgrade the health facilities, track conditions, infrastructure in the Yatra area and steps to preserve the environment. The Shrine Board was informed that a comprehensive Action Plan has been drawn up to implement the recommendations of SHPC and directions of the Supreme Court.

Regarding the duration and date of commencement of the Yatra 2013, the board relied upon the approach set out by the Board’s Sub Committee, chaired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which had been set up in July 2011 to advise the board regarding the duration and schedule of future Yatras.

The board noted that even on June 25, 2012, the date on which Yatra 2012 had commenced, there was heavy frozen snow accumulation in the Domel, Sheshnag and Holy Cave Camp areas because of which it was very difficult to set up power and water supply facilities in the Yatra Camps.

“Even the langar organizations were not able to set up their Langars, particularly at Sheshnag, by June 25, 2012.  Keeping in view the foremost concern of safety and security of the pilgrims, the Board decided that a 55 day Yatra would commence on June 28, 2013 and conclude on Raksha Bandhan on August 21,  2013,” the meeting was informed
The Board directed that the CEO would arrange a special Pooja on the day of Jyesth  Purnima, which falls on June 23.
“This Pooja shall, if possible, take place at the Holy Cave or any other suitable location in the Yatra area to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva for the smooth and safe conduct of the pilgrimage,” the CEO was directed by the board.

The board decided that 7,500 Yatris, excluding Yatris who travel by helicopters from Baltal and Pahalgam to Panjtarni, would be allowed to register for the pilgrimage on per day per route basis.

The Board also discussed the recommendations of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) regarding the upper and lower age limit of the Yatris who may be allowed to undertake the Yatra. The Board was informed that NDMA has recommended that no child under the age of 11 years, no person above the age of 80 years and no pregnant lady with more than six weeks pregnancy should be allowed to undertake the Yatra.

Regarding registration, the Board noted that during Yatra 2012 internet generated e-Yatra Permits had been fraudulently duplicated and used by a large number of unregistered Yatris to enter into the Yatra area.

“Provision of on-line facility would be discontinued to avoid misuse of Yatra Permits, particularly also because the on-line mode is not logistically compatible for verifying whether a Yatri possesses a valid Compulsory Health Certificate or not,” read the statement.

The Board stressed the need for the Police to ensure that no Yatri is able to embark on the Yatra who does not possess a Yatra Permit which is valid for that route and the date on which he seeks to cross over and the Board decided that Yatra Permits should be colour coded on the proposed lines.

“For Yatra 2013 the Yatra Permit would be of a specified colour for each day of the week,” the meeting was informed.
The Board also took note of the two memoranda submitted by Vishav Hindu Parishad and Baba Amarnath & Baba Buda Amarnath Yatri Niyas and deliberated upon the various suggestions put forth by them including their suggestions about the schedule and duration of Yatra.

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