J&K HC asks SASB, govt to take decision on Amarnath Yatra | India News

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and the Union Territory administration to take a decision on the annual Amarnath Yatra taking into consideration the safety of all stakeholders including pilgrims, security personnel and locals in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move follows a petition filed by HC advocate Sachin Sharma to suspend this year’s pilgrimage — scheduled to begin from July 21 to August 3, a shortened duration of 14 days — on account of the lack of preparedness and the apprehended inability of the authorities to deal with the requirements of the pandemic situation.
Sharma expressed grave concern and anxiety about the health and well-being of the yatris and J&K citizens in case the yatra was permitted amid the current scenario. He added that because of the Covid-19 scare, no labour was available to facilitate or assist the administration in snow removal or other necessary arrangements. Additionally, the rising number of Covid infections and subsequent mortalities were reason enough to deter this year’s pilgrimage, Sharma plead.
“Such considered view shall ensure compliance of all healthcare protocols, standard operating protocols notified by the central government as well as by the Jammu and Kashmir guided by the principles laid down by the Supreme Court that the right to health of every person has to be placed at the highest pedestal; address the concerns of the health of the security personnel, healthcare personnel, priests, the Yatris and of the officials who would be involved in the arrangements and conduct of the Yatra as also the residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the court said.
In the decision-making, the SASB shall ensure consideration of the welfare and support of all persons, especially the porters, pithoo/palki service providers, and also the mules and horses used in the yatra, the HC said.
The court observed that the pilgrimage from Pahalgam or Ganderbal side is not easy and requires extensive facilitation by both government and non-government organisations. “While J&K is engaged in ensuring proper passage, security, medical facilities, setting up points of stay, lodging toilets, etc., it is also responsible for ensuring continuous supply of power and telecommunication facilities at/near the shrine,” the HC said.

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