A seven-member delegation of BJP MPs, which included Leaders of the Opposition in Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, met Home Minister P Chidambaram and urged him to take urgent steps to prevent death of pilgrims and ensure proper facilities for them. “We have urged the Home Minister to take urgent steps and do the needful to extend the tenure of the yatra and provide facilities to stop such death which has created anguish across the country,” Swaraj told reporters after the meeting.
She claimed one of the major factors behind such high mortality this year was because of drastic squeezing of the yatra duration from the usual 60 days to just 39 days and blamed the Amarnath Shrine Board for the “chaos”. “The problem has also got aggravated because of a severe ‘queueing’ system introduced this year. When the number of pilgrims to Amarnath should be between 10,000 to 20,000 per day, around 40,000 to 42,000 pilgrims are visiting the shrine every day. As a result, many people have died,” she said.
Swaraj said the situation had become more complicated because the queueing system made pilgrims to “suffer” between two and five days in high altitude areas in the midst of heavy rains and extremely cold weather. She said the rush also caused severe shortage of medical facilities and accommodation because the existing number of tents and huts could in no way cope up with the sudden surge of the pilgrims.
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