The National Green Tribunal has directed that only 50,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu.
The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar made it clear that if the number of pilgrims exceeds the prescribed 50,000 cap, they will be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town. The panel stated that the Vaishno Devi Bhawan structure cannot accomodate more than 50,000 persons a day.
The green panel also said that a new path to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars will be opened from November 24.
No horses or mules shall be allowed on the new route to the shrine and the animals will also be removed slowly from the old path too, said the green court.
The green body also directed the authorities to impose a fine (environment compensation) of ₹ 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads as well as the bus stop at the nearby Katra town.
The green panel’s directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and mules in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu, prompting the green panel to seek 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 petitioner had also claimed that it was dangerous for the pedestrians, especially the senior citizens.
(With inputs from PTI)