Provide infrastructure to Amarnath pilgrims, NGT tells Govt

RSTV Bureau

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday rapped Amarnath Shrine Board for not providing proper infrastructure and facilities to pilgrims.

FILE: Baltal:  Pilgrims cross mountain trails during their religious journey to the Amarnath cave on the Baltal route, some 125 kms away from Srinagar on July 9, 2017. PTI Photo

FILE: Baltal: Pilgrims cross mountain trails during their religious journey to the Amarnath cave on the Baltal route, some 125 km away from Srinagar on July 9, 2017. PTI Photo

The Green Panel took exception over non-compliance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 and asked the Board what steps they have taken in all these years.

“You have allowed shops on a path near the shrine. There are no proper facilities for toilets. Do you even know how humiliating this is for women? Why have you not provided proper infrastructural facilities for pilgrims. You are giving priority to commercial activities over pilgrims. This is unfair. The sanctity of the shrine has to be maintained,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

File photo of Natioal Green Tribunal, Delhi.

File photo of Natioal Green Tribunal, Delhi.

The green tribunal formed a committee of experts headed by the additional secretary of the ministry of environment to submit an action plan on providing facilities to pilgrims.

The committee shall submit the report on aspects like providing a proper path, cleanliness in the area near the shrine after inspection, the NGT said in its order.

It also directed the Shrine Board to submit a status report on compliance with directions issued by the Supreme Court. The NGT asked the committee to file its status report in the first week of December.

It also asked the Committee to consider installing eco- friendly toilets in the area.

The NGT also directed the Shrine Board to submit a status report, by the first week of December, on the compliance of directions issued by the apex court in 2012.

Amarnath cave shrine is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism.

The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims.

The directions came while hearing the plea filed by environment activist Gauri Maulekhi.