Amarnath Yatra: Panel recommends review of health certificates

Citing medical infirmities as the prime cause of death of pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra,a Supreme Court-mandated special high powered committee

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: September 18, 2012 12:44 am

Citing medical infirmities as the prime cause of death of pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra,a Supreme Court-mandated special high powered committee has recommended a review of the existing format of health certificates to be procured by pilgrims before setting forth on the journey.

“An expert medical committee should review the format of the existing Compulsory Health Certificate… that the certificate should be issued by the Chief Medical Officer/ Medical Superintendent/ Block Medical Officer/ Government doctors,authorised by the state government health authorities,” stated the summary of recommendations submitted before a Bench led by Justice B S Chauhan on Monday.

Significantly,more than 95 deaths this season have been due to health reasons. A previous report in The Indian Express noted that pilgrims had been concealing their medical history of cardiac and respiratory problems in order to undertake the journey and many were egged on by travel agents who did not insist on health certificates. While some obtained health certificates from just any doctor,several simply travelled without health checks.

The summary,by Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman,said that the committee wanted the Union Health Ministry to facilitate appropriate training for doctors and paramedics deployed on the stretch. It further said that the ministry should ask experienced specialists to advise state health authorities.

In its report,the committee also noted that the ban on plastic bags has not been implemented and there must be a strict enforcement of the same. It also recommended creation of infrastructure for sanitary and environmentally safe facilities for disposal of municipal solid waste.

Addressing issues relating to registration,the committee recommended that the Amarnath Shrine Board should determine,from year to year,the maximum number of pilgrims to be allowed to embark on the journey. It said the police should assist pilgrims so as to ensure nobody heads on without a Yatra Card for a particular day and time. “Telecom inter-connectivity should be ensured by the Department of Telecom,” the committee added.

The Bench,which had earlier taken a suo motu notice of the spurt in deaths of pilgrims this year,asked all stakeholders to submit responses to the committee’s recommendations in two weeks.

It clarified that the issues relating to the infrastructure will be dealt with by the court whereas issues pertaining to environment should be taken care by the committee.

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