Improve facilities, extend Amarnath yatra period: BJPAugust 14th, 2012 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday demanded in the Rajya Sabha that the central government extend the time limit for the Amarnath Yatra and improve the facilities provided to the pilgrims, amidst reports of a large number of deaths during the pilgrimage.
Demanding clarifications during a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley blamed the government for reducing the yatra time over the years.
“The period for yatra is decreasing every year, and the number of yatris (pilgrims) is increasing,” Jaitley said.
Giving out the figures, he said the number of days for the yatra was four months in the 1950s.
“In 2009, it was 60 days, in 2010, it was 55 days, in 2011 it was 45 days and in 2012 it was 39 days,” he said.
Home Minister Suhilkumar Shinde, however, said that the beginning of the pilgrimage depends upon the time of melting of the snow and it ends with Raksha Bandhan.
“Beginning of the yatra is determined by the date on which the route is cleared of snow…Routes get cleared by end of June or first day of July. In year 2010, yatra began July 1… this year it started on June 25. On each of these occasions… yatra closes on Raksha Bandhan,” Shinde said.
Jaitley, however, said that the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra, another pilgrimage in the Himalayas at an altitude of 22,000 ft, started much before the Amarnath Yatra, at the height of around 13,000 ft.
“On paper, you have formed this argument that Amarnath Yatra cannot start before July,” he said.
Jaitley also slammed the government for allegedly not extending adequate facilities to the yatris, and demanded that authorities create permanent facilities, taking land on lease from the state government.
He also suggested some changes were needed in the Amarnath Yatra Shrine Board as some of the members were “anti-yatra”.
The home minister informed the house that over 6,71,000 people undertook the Amarnath Yatra this year, while the causality figure stood at 93.
But Jaitley said that if the number of deaths due to accident on the route to the pilgrimage was included, the total number of deaths was 130.
“We can’t afford to lose so many people,” Jaitley said.
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Tags: adequate facilities, amarnath yatra, bharatiya janata party, central government, clarifications, four months, himalayas, home minister, kailash mansarovar, leader of opposition, mansarovar yatra, melting of the snow, pilgrimage, pilgrims, rajya sabha, raksha bandhan, shinde, shrine board, snow routes, time limit