Facilities poor on yatra route: BJP to PC

 A delegation of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday met Home Minister P Chidambaram and urged him to ensure safety for the pilgrims to Amarnath.

The seven MPs, led by leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, requested Chidambaram to increase duration of the pilgrimage since they suspected that most of the people succumbed to the taxing schedule, poor medical facility and “queuing up due to shortened duration.”

The minister, who was handed over a memorandum by the delegation, said he will apprise the Jammu and Kashmir governor, who also heads the Amarnath Shrine Board, of their concerns.

After the meeting, Sushma told reporters: “We have urged the Home Minister to take urgent steps and do the needful to extend the tenure of the yatra. So far,  97 pilgrims have died on the way, many of them as young as 22 years. Even in the first 16 days of the yatra, 51 pilgrims were reported to have died. This is an all time high figure which the authorities will not be very proud of.”

According to the BJP, a major factor behind the deaths is the compact schedule of the pilgrimage. Now, the pilgrimage is a 39-day affair, as against 60 days earlier. “The problem was aggravated by the queueing system introduced this year.

When the number of pilgrims to Amarnath should be between 10,000 and 20,000 per day, around 40,000 to 42,000 pilgrims are visiting the shrine daily,” Swaraj said.
The Supreme Court has also expressed shock over the deaths of the pilgrims and constituted a committee to suggest ways for better organisation of the pilgrimage. Sushma said the deaths could have been avoided had the shrine board taken more precautions while planning the yatra.

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