A high-powered committee has been set up by the Supreme Court to make an in depth probe into growing number of deaths among pilgrims of the Amarnath Yatra. The team will be headed by governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The committee will also have secretaries of Home, Environment and Forest Ministry, along with Director Generals of Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Border Roads Organization. The panel has been asked to submit a preliminary report on the scenario and how the problems faced by the pilgrims can be eased, before 13 Aug.
The panel will have as its nodal officer, the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and the state governor as chairman as he heads the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. The bench consisting of Justice BS Chauhan and Swatantra Kumar has directed the panel to visit the shrine and obtain a first hand account of the situation. The committee members have been granted flexibility to nominate representatives. However, they are should be of the ranking of additional secretary or higher.
The court’s directive comes following the alarming reports of increase in the number of deaths among pilgrims. Referring to the matter as ‘delicate’, the court observed that lack of facilities could be a prime reason for the growing number of deaths. The court has also taken into account the narrowness of the approach path leading to the shrine, which is located at 11,000 feet. Pilgrims moved across the path either on foot, horses or ‘palkis’. “Due to the lack of space, pilgrims skid and fall thousands of feet below and die,” said Justice Kumar.
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