SC takes note of casualties, environmental concerns
‘Why Seven Times The Requisite Number Of People Is Allowed To Visit The Cave Shrine’
New Delhi, July 16: The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir governments as also the chief of the Amarnath Shrine Board seeking explanation as to why a huge number of people is allowed to visit the Amarnath Cave daily given the fragile ecological nature of the area. The Apex court has also sought explanation over the number of casualties due to natural death enroute cave area.
Specifically raising the environmental issues involved due to fragile nature of the area, the Court questioned as to why seven times the requisite number of people coming to visit the cave per day is being permitted and if so, whether there is requisite infrastructure at the site for handling such huge crowd?
Terming it as “a very sensitive place from the environmental point of view” the Court further observed that the government was duty-bound to control pollution.
The Apex Court has taken suo motu notice on the basis of media reports that around 80 Amarnath pilgrims have lost their lives in the first 17 days of the over a month long pilgrimage this year. One hundred and five pilgrims had died during 45 day long pilgrimage in 2011.
“What is the cause for such high casualty rate and whether there exists the required medical equipment to ensure that in future such casualties can be avoided,” the court asked.
A bench comprising Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Swantanter Kumar asked the Union Home Secretary, Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forests, J& K chief secretary and chairperson of the Amarnathji Shrine Board to appear before it in a week to answer questions related to the “unusually high” number of casualties among the Amarnath pilgrims.
“All these reports clearly showed disregard to the human life. Lack of facilities at the shrine and on the paths leading to the shrine is evident from all the articles and the photographs published therein,” the Bench said adding: “In our considered view, the pilgrims have a Constitutional right under Articles 21 (right to life) and 19(1)(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India, free of fear, with dignity and safety and to ensure enforcement of such right is the primary obligation of the State and the Central governments,” the bench said.
The Court also pulled the Government machinery for such high rate of casualties. “It is expected of a government and the concerned authorities to devote more attention and provide appropriate amenities and facilities to protect the life of the individuals, the environment as well as ensure to make the Yatra effective and successful, preferably without any human casualty. “The authorities cannot shirk their responsibility of providing minimum essential facilities including medical assistance, roads and other necessary infrastructure. Visit of lakhs of people to the state generates revenue for the State, in fact, for the residents of that State and add to the need for better tourism facilities. The authorities are also expected to better equip the Forces posted at the holy cave, base points and en route to the holy cave,” the SC said.
The Apex Court raised specific queries and asked whether proper medical/emergency facilities exist to prevent human casualties, what steps have been taken to protect the environment in the area, what essential amenities have been provided at the base camps and en route to the Holy cave, what measures taken/methods adopted for collection and disposal of the waste and what facilities/equipment available, particularly for protecting or treating conditions such as dyspnoea, cardiac arrest and other heart related problems.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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