Weather shelters to save Amarnath yatris
Written by DNA Correspondent   
Sunday, 22 July 2012

At a time when the supreme court is seized with the issue of growing number of casualties of Amarnath pilgrims, the Piramal group has submitted an affidavit saying it wants to offer assistance for the welfare of pilgrims facing problems during the pilgrimage.
The group has to build an anti-skid track on the treacherous six-kilometre stretch from Panchtarni to the holy shrine from where maximum deaths are reported. It has also proposed to provide medical facilities and all weather shelters en-route to help avoid mishaps and casualties due to unpredictable weather.

It will be recalled that the apex court has appointed a high-power committee headed by the Jammu and Kashmir government to look into the high number of casualties. The committee, which comprise secretaries of home, health, environment and forest, chief secretary of J&K, and also various security agencies is expected to suggest ways in which the deaths can be avoided. The panel members are expected to visit the Amarnath cave-shrine and submit its suggestions to the chairman of the panel. This will then be examined and submitted to the apex court before August 13.


The affidavit while seeking the SC’s permission to undertake works insists this is a voluntary effort to help pilgrims and assures, “The applicant will not seek any monetary assistance from the state.”

When DNA spoke to Piramal Systems managing director Harinder Sikka about the company’s affidavit he said, “I visited Amarnath last Friday and was shocked to see the conditions there. When I got back and apprised my boss of the situation and asked if we could do something, he agreed immediately. In the past our corporate social responsibility initiatives, we have looked at safe drinking water, rural healthcare and education. We’ve been concerned over pilgrim deaths and felt this was the best possible way to intervene.”

Laughing away the talk of religious reasons for the initiative saying: “This is driven purely by empathy and humanity.” It will take three months to execute the plan, he added. “Post-supreme court permission, we will try to get the work done,” he said, adding that there were plans to build shelters every 500 metres with central heating along the treacherous path.

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