SHPC for strict implementation of yatra permit, discouraging on spot registration

Neeraj Rohmetra
JAMMU, Oct 5: The Supreme- Court mandated Special High Powered Committee (SHPC) has recommended strict implementation of yatra permit system for securing satisfactory Yatra management during Amarnath pilgrimage. The Committee has also suggested measures to discourage on-spot registration of pilgrims at Jammu and base camps of Baltal and Nunwan.
Meanwhile, an interesting representation has been made by Piramal Systems & Technology to the Committee, a copy of which also stands submitted before the State Governor and the Chief Secretary. The Company had submitted a proposal to allow it to lay a six feet wide concrete anti-skid track from Panjtarni to the holy cave shrine without any financial support from the State Government or the SASB. The Company had also proposed to set up shelters at regular intervals for providing basic amenities such as health care, water, etc.
While touching on the subject of Registration, Access Control and Security, the SHPC Committee in its report says, “there should be strict compliance of allowing only those pilgrims, who possess valid yatra permits for that date and route to cross the control gates. To facilitate, the police personnel deployed at the Access Control Gates in determining whether the Yatri possessed a valid yatra permit for the given date and route, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) may adopt colour colding of yatra permits. In this system, the yatra permit would be given colour for each day of the week”.
Further, effective enforcement at the Access Control Gates would be crucial for securing satisfactory yatra management. The District Magistrate and the district police will be mainly responsible for enforcing effective Access Control.
The pilgrims should be released in batches, reasonably spread out over a specified period in the day, to avoid any congestion on the tracks. The SHPC also suggested that SASB should consider indicating the “reporting time” on the yatra permits, along with the date and route of the pilgrimage.
“The J&K Police and Central Armed Police Forces should enlarge the provisions of the basic requirements like tents, bedding, toilet, etc. to their personnel deployed on yatra duty in order to provide them better working conditions”, the report says.
The Committee recommended that on-spot registration of pilgrims at Jammu and base camps of Baltal and Nunwan should be discouraged. Pilgrims seeking advance registration in their home State should be provided a useful opportunity to educate him about the difficulties involved in the journey and health related precautions.
As in case of advance registrations, on-spot registrations should also specify a specific date and route for the applicant to commence his journey. The pilgrims should be allowed to commence his yatra on the same day only if the number of pilgrims registered for that particular date is below the registration ceiling prescribed by the SASB.
“The SASB will continue to determine from year to year the maximum number of pilgrims to be allowed to embark on the tracks, after taking into consideration the weather condition and forecasts, track conditions, infrastructure available in the enroute camps and the holy cave shrine, which would include the handling capacity at the shrine and other required facilities. Once the required decision has been communicated by the SASB, the police shall ensure that the number of pilgrims, who are allowed to cross over the Access Control Gates possess valid yatra permits for that date and route”, says the report of the Committee.
While commenting on the health related issues of the pilgrims, the report says that an Expert Medical Committee comprising three medical specialists by Union Health Ministry and one Medical Specialist nominated by State Government should review the format of the existing Compulsory Health Certificate and suggest suitable modification therein, as required.
“There is need to reconsider the authority competent to issue the Compulsory Health Certificate, which is currently being done by any Registered Medical Practitioner. The same should now be issued by the Chief Medical Officer/ Medical Superintendent/ Block Medical Officer/ Government Doctors authorized by the concerned State Government Health authorities. The State Governments and Union Health Ministry will also provide list of reputed Private Medical Institutions located in areas within their respective jurisdictions, which may be authorized to issue Health Fitness Certificates”, the Report says.
The medical facilities should be rationally dispersed and relocated on the basis of critical assessments. A Committee comprising the State Secretary Health, CEO SASB, Director Health Services (Kashmir) and one senior officer each from Army, BSF, CRPF and ITBP should review the existing locations of all Medical Aid Centers (MACs) and rationalize the location of MACs and whenever necessary, increase their number to ensure that these are located at regular distances from each other and not in a cluster. ITBP, which has considerable experience of organising medical aid for Mansarovar yatra should be asked to set up at least two MACs in the lower holy cave and Sheshnag areas.
The Union Health Ministry and the States from where a relatively larger number of pilgrims arrive should be moved to provide services of specialist doctors to supplement the efforts of the State Government. The Ministry should also facilitate timely arrangements for appropriate training in High Altitude Sickness Management being provided to doctors and paramedics of the State Health Department.
“The MACs at holy cave, Sangam, Panjtarni, Sheshnag and Poshpatri should be housed in large tents/ structure in which temperatures at 25-26 degree Celsius should be maintained for effective patient care”, the report says.
The Principal Secretary, Home will convene a meeting of all security forces at least two months before the Yatra to prepare a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for immediate evacuation of the ill/injured pilgrims, with the help of the resources available with State Disaster Management Authority, Air Force and SASB. The meeting should also explore the possibility of air ambulance to evacuate critical ill/injured persons, who need to be shifted most immediately.
After the constitution of the SPHC, several organizations, individual and companies had also expressed their suggestion before the Committee, which were deliberated upon before making the final recommendations.

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