Road to Amarnath shrine will be a green disaster: Omar

Road to Amarnath shrine will be a green disaster: Omar

National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah on Tuesday asked the government to rethink a project for motorable roads up to the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir. Meanwhile, the BJP has welcomed the move.

“In the green belts of Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam, no one is allowed to even repair or make additions to structures to protect the ecology and the environment. If such measures are being taken to protect these areas, then it should also be a responsibility to preserve the environment near the Amarnath holy cave,” Mr. Abdulah said.

He said pilgrims, for centuries, traveled by foot as part of a tradition to reach the shrine. “Such pilgrimages involve a degree of hardship. No one drives in a car in Kaaba and many pilgrims prefer to trek to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Using vehicles is more of a disruption than development,” Mr. Abdullah said.

Abdullah’s remarks come a day after the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) posted pictures and videos of vehicles driving to the shrine from Sonamarg. The BRO is widening tracks and erecting railings along the routes to the cave shrine. 

Meanwhile, the BJP has welcomed the move. 

“Only the insane would criticize this move of the Modi Government to help the lakhs of people who wish to visit the cave shrine of Baba Barfani,” senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said.

Mr. Gupta said, “Those having problem with this people-friendly move must visit a psychiatrist. The BRO deserves praise.”

Mr. Gupta said there were political groups in the Valley that oppose development. “With vehicles reaching Amarnathji Shrine, things will further improve in Kashmir, making it necessary for common people to reject the negativity being spread by the PDP leadership over the issue,” he said.

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the Amarnath Yatra is a sacred journey for millions and its religious significance is paramount. “However, construction of a road to the sacred cave poses a significant threat to the local ecology, with severe consequences for wildlife and forests,” Mr. Tarigami said.
He said the road that cuts through glaciers and critical forest areas without the mandatory No Objection Certificate, has created substantial challenges for environmental sustainability in the Himalayan Region. 

“It is imperative that government agencies engage with all stakeholders, seeking their input and respecting environmental statutes to prevent unsustainable development,” he said.

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