Angry pilgrims question NGT diktats
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Wednesday listed a few do’s and don’ts for members of the majority community in India on how to perform one of the most arduous pilgrimages to Amarnath cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,888 meters in the south Kashmir district of Anantnag.
Mentioning abuse of authority by senior politicians and unchecked movement of VVIP’s during the pilgrimage pilgrims claimed till this will go on all such efforts would fail to address the issue.
As per the latest diktats of the green court, a devout ‘Shiva’ disciple won’t be able to sing peans and ring bells standing in front of ice stalagmite inside the cave shrine.
An NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said there should be no ringing of bells in the cave shrine, and pilgrims would have to deposit all mobiles and belongings at the last check post. The tribunal also asked the shrine authorities to consider building a separate room where people could keep their belongings.
Amarnath cave shrine is thronged by lakhs of visitors every year to perform pilgrimage where ice stalagmite takes shape inside a cave.Reacting to these latest guidelines a large number of Shiva disciples claimed, NGT has hurt the sentiments of pilgrims by going to the extent of preventing them from chanting Mantras and ringing bells.
The pilgrims claimed if NGT was keen on addressing the real reasons behind rising pollution levels they should have studied the ground reality and taken feedback from authorities present on ground zero.
Mentioning abuse of authority by senior politicians and unchecked movement of VVIP’s during the pilgrimage pilgrims claimed till this will go on all such efforts would fail to address the issue. Use of helicopters for ferrying pilgrims should also be checked by the NGT if it really wanted to motivate pilgrims to stop chanting mantras and ring bells inside the cave shrine, the pilgrims questioned.
Since the cave shrine falls in the ecologically fragile zone rising levels of pollution and increasing number of pilgrim footfalls had triggered a debate whether adequate measures have been taken to prevent another environmental disaster to happen.
The National Green Tribunal set these conditions after learning in detail how Amarnath Shrine board authorities have failed to provide adequate infrastructure facilities to pilgrims including better healthcare facilities en route the cave shrine.
The Tribunal had asked the Shrine Board authorities to submit a status report in the first week of December besides issuing a slew of orders to be implemented by the Amarnath Shrine Board.
Apart from issuing these strict guidelines the tribunal also said there should be a single queue of people walking towards the main cave from the last check post.
During the hearing in November, the tribunal had also sought to know if the Amarnath board had complied with the Supreme Court’s 2012 directions to improve infrastructure to prevent casualties during the pilgrimage.
In 2012, the SC had set up a high-powered committee to recommend measures to prevent casualties during the Amarnath Yatra.
NGT had fixed daily limit of 50,000 pilgrims at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had earlier directed that only 50,000 pilgrims would be allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine, nestled in Trikuta hills, per day to avoid any untoward incident.
The bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had stated that if the number of pilgrims exceeded the prescribed 50,000 cap, they would be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town since the Vaishno Devi Bhawan cannot accommodate more than 50,000 people.
It also directed that a new path exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars be opened from November 24 and that no horses or mules be allowed on this path. Animals, it added, should be slowly removed from the old path as well.
The tribunal had also issued directions that authorities impose a fine (environmental compensation) of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering on the roads or the bus stop near Katra town.
The new path which was constructed for Rs 40 crore should be positively opened to the public at the earliest.
The green panel’s directions came during the hearing of a plea by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies at the Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu, prompting the NGT to seek a response from the government on the issue.
The petitioner had expressed concern over the “pollution and danger to public health” caused by indiscriminate use of horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys to carry pilgrims and goods from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple. The plea, filed by activist Gauri Maulekhi, also claimed that the horses and mules on the path to the shrine were dangerous for pedestrians, especially senior citizens.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.