SRINAGAR: The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has responded to environmental concerns raised in Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that the widened tracks leading to the Amarnath cave are not intended for vehicular movement.
In a statement, the BRO said that the ongoing work, assigned by the JK administration in September 2022 for the maintenance and upgradation of the Amarnath Yatra track, is progressing steadily within the allotted working window.
The widening of tracks leading to the cave aligns with the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India issued in 2012. The court mandated sufficient widening to facilitate pedestrian traffic, alleviate congestion, enhance critical stretches, and incorporate safety measures such as railings and retaining walls, all while considering environmental concerns.
The BRO clarified that the widening efforts are focused on tracks intended for the movement of yatris on foot, by palkis/dandies, and on ponies.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed concern about the environmental impact, stating that vehicular movement in the area would adversely affect the environment. He urged the government to reconsider the decision, likening it to the tradition of facing difficulties during religious journeys, such as the Hajj pilgrimage where circling the Kaaba is done on foot.
Kashmiri Pandit leader Mohit Bhan, associated with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP, criticized the move, deeming it a significant transgression against Hindu religion and faith in nature. “This is not history, this is the biggest crime against Hindu religion and faith in nature. Hinduism is all about spiritual immersion in Mother Nature, which is why our pilgrimage sites are in the lap of the Himalayas. Converting religious pilgrimages into picnic spots just for political gains is condemnable. We have seen God’s wrath in Joshimath, Kedarnath, yet we are not learning any lesson, rather we are inviting devastation in Kashmir,” Bhan said.