New Delhi: In the wake of death of pilgrims during the just-concluded Amarnath Yatra, the facilities and safety aspects of the annual pilgrimage today came in for close scrutiny in the Rajya Sabha after which the government said additional steps will be taken in this regard.
Replying to a calling attention motion, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the special high-powered committee appointed by the Supreme Court is likely to submit its report by September and government will take action on its recommendations.
He said the government will look into suggestions made by members like starting the Yatra early to the mountain cave in South Kashmir, making arrangements for mechanised removal of snow along the route and setting up a ropeway to the cave.
The Minister said as many as 6,21,145 pilgrims undertook the Amarnath Yatra in 2012 which saw 93 casualties. This, he said, was lower than 106 casualties in 2011 when a total of 6,35,611 pilgrims undertook the Yatra. There were 45 deaths in 2009 when a total of 3,92,653 pilgrims undertook the Yatra and 77 in 2010 when 4,51,710 pilgrims participated.
The opposition led by BJP accused the government of not being serious on providing proper facilities and safety measures along the Yatra route resulting in death of pilgrims.
Recently, the Supreme Court had rapped the government for inadequate facilities and has set up a special high powered committee to suggest ways to improve the facilities.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley charged the government with reducing the Yatra period under a "pre-conceived plan" even as number of pilgrims was rising.
He said going by the government`s contention that proper arrangements have been made, "It seems that all facilities are there with utmost perfection. But ground realities are not so. You made a Board but you did not facilitate it by providing land for creating facilities."