Concerned over rising number of deaths of devotees en route the cave shrine of Amarnath this year, a team led by Jammu and Kashmir Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma visited pilgrim camps to review medical facilities provided to them

Mr. Sharma, accompanied by his deputy Javid Ahmad Dar and Chief Executive Officer of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) Navin K Choudhary, visited camps at Nunwan, Sheshnag, Panjtarni, Holy cave and Baltal yesterday, an official spokesman said.

He said the team inspected all Medical Aid Centres (MAC), checked the number of doctors and para—medical staff on duty and the availability of medicines, essential diagnostic and treatment equipments and oxygen cylinders.

As many as 83 pilgrims have died, mostly due to cardiac arrest since the commencement of the yatra on June 25, sparking off criticism by Hindu groups who have alleged lack of adequate medical facilities.

Expressing concern over the rising number of deaths of pilgrims on way to the holy shrine, the Supreme Court had yesterday sought explanation from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government on lack of proper medical facilities for them.

The spokesman said the high-level team undertook the visit on the directions of Governor N N Vohra, who is also chairman of the SASB, and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to review medical facilities.

“The team found that the MAC are operating virtually round—the—clock and providing required aid to pilgrims,” the spokesman said.

After his visit, the Health Minister directed immediate augmentation of critical life saving medicines, particularly at high altitude MACs at Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Holy Cave.

Fresh batch leave for Amarnath

Amid tight security, a fresh batch of 2,655 pilgrims on Tuesday left for the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

The pilgrims comprising 1,832 men, 586 women, 36 children and 201 ‘sadhus’ left in a cavalcade of 85 vehicles from Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu at around 0500 hours for Amarnath.

With Tuesday’s batch, as many as 78,650 pilgrims have left Jammu for their onward journey to the Amarnath cave shrine.

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