Health certificate mandatory for Amarnath yatra pilgrims

Devotees who plan to undertake Amarnath pilgrimage will have to furnish compulsory health certificate (CHC) on a prescribed format from authorised doctors and medical institutes before registering for the yatra in south Kashmir’s mountainous area at a height of 3,880 metres.

Official sources said the decision was taken in New Delhi on Thursday after a three hour meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) officials. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra, who is also the Chairman of the SASB, was present.

“The pilgrims would have to furnish a CHC while seeking registration for Yatra 2013. A committee of medical experts drawn from the Union Health Ministry and the State Health Department have designed a certificate format and the “yatri” is 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,” an official spokesperson said.

He said only the health certifica­tes issued by duly authorised doctors and medical institutes and issued after February 1 2013 would be valid. This is to ensure that fraudulent means are not employed.

, he added, “All states and UTs have been asked to furnish a list of doctors/medical institutes who would be authorised to issue the certificate to the eligible yatris,” he added.

A survey carried out by the Valley’s lone tertiary care hospital Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and released last year had called for rigorous health check up of pilgrims in the wake of last year’s deaths of several unregistered pilgrims.

The research paper “Hyperglycemic Emergencies in Indian Patients with Diabetes Mellitus on Pilgrimage to Amarnathji Yatra” says that high altitude, strenuous exertions of going uphill, withdrawal of insulin or hypoglycaemic drugs, starvation, sepsis, alcohol intake were recorded as “predisposing factors” to death.

Regarding the duration and date of commencement of the Yatra 2013, the SASB has decided that keeping in view the concern of safety and security of the pilgrims, a 55 day Yatra would commence on 28 June 2013 and conclude on Raksha Bandhan on 21 August 2013.

The Board has decided that no one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years and no pregnant lady with more than six weeks pregnancy should be allowed to undertake the yatra.

The SASB has also discarded online registration system from this year. “It was noted that during Yatra 2012, internet generated e-Yatra permits had been fraudulently duplicated and used by a large number of unregistered yatris. The provision of online facility would be discontinued to avoid misuse of permits, particularly because online mode is not logistically compatible for verifying whether a yatri possesses a valid CHC or not,” the SASB spokesperson said.

He said the Board deliberated in detail the number of pilgrims who would be granted permits, date-wise and route-wise. “Keeping in view that it would not be possible, as directed by the Supreme Court, to upgrade the walking tracks along both the routes in the Yatra area before the commencement of this year’s Yatra, 7,500 Yatris, excluding those who travel by helicopters from Baltal and Pahalgam to Panjtarni, would be allowed to register for the pilgrimage on per day, per route basis,” he added.

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