SC sets up panel to study Amarnath deaths
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday set up a high-powered committee headed by the Jammu and Kashmir governor to study the reasons for growing number of pilgrims` deaths during the annual Amarnath Yatra.
Among others, the committee will have secretaries of the home ministry and ministry of environment and forest and the director generals of Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
The Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary will be the nodal officer of the panel and the governor its chairman as he heads the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).
Taking suo motu cognisance of reports regarding deaths of pilgrims, judges B.S. Chauhan and Swatantra Kumar said the panel would visit the shrine to have a first hand account of the situation.
The panel was told to summit a preliminary report before Aug 13.
The court observed that it was a delicate matter and blamed lack of facilities for the growing number of deaths of devotees.
The court noticed that the approach path leading to the shrine, located at 11,000 feet, was very narrow, on which pilgrims moved 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.
The court said the committee members could nominate their representatives but they should not be below the rank of additional secretary.
The panel has been told to suggest ways to ease problems faced by Amarnath pilgrims.
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