Despite controversial claims made by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde that militants are planning to attack pilgrims during annual Amarnath yatra everything went smoothly and incident free.
Governor NN Vohra who also heads Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) lost no time to thank state government and district administrations for helping 55 day long yatra concluded safely.
Unlike last year the number of pilgrim deaths has gone down considerably because of number of measure taken by the state government. For the first time state government acted tough against unregistered yatris who tried to force their way to the holy cave during the initial days of yatra. According to government officials around 12 thousand unregistered yatris were sent back as they tried to march towards the cave well before the official commencement of yatra 2013. Keeping up the tradition of hospitality locals (read Muslims) left no stone unturned help state government manage the annual yatra. It is because of the efforts by villagers from both Pahalgam and Sonmarg (two government notified routes of Amarnath yatra) that such a massive yatra is carried smoothly. With lakhs of yatris paying obeisance in a span of 55 days areas around Pahalgam and Sonmarg base camp look like mini mobile cities. There are camps everywhere. The area and the people (including local Muslims) fill are regularly featured on magazine and newspaper covers. But as soon as the yatra concludes the areas is forgotten completely. The tonnes of wastage left behind by langars (free kitchens) and pony walas find no takers. The area looks like an abandoned city with huge piles of garbage littered everywhere. Both state government and SASB forget the place completely till next yatra season approaches. Last year after the end of Amarnath yatra the villages on the downstream suffered a number of water borne diseases including cholera. It is imperative for state government and SASB to take care of these villagers who facilitate smooth run of yatra every year. As both Pahalgam and Sonmarg are ecologically fragile areas it is important to take extra caution to clean up the mess after yatra concludes. Last year a New Delhi based NGO collected tonnes of plastic bottles from Lidder River after the yatra.
But the question is if state government can spare men and resources for yatra each year why can’t it take up the clean up operation as well.
It will help villagers living on the downstream feel safe and healthy in their small dwellings. Why should anybody suffer when just a little bit of extra efforts can make everybody happy.