Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra, who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), has slated an emergency meeting of the Board in the first week of January 2018. Sources said in the meeting an adverse stand against the recent National Green Tribunal (NGT) verdict might be taken. The NGT had put some strings on the pilgrimage to the main shrine of the Amarnath cave.
According to the officials of SASB, following the outrage by different social and religious organisations against the verdict, a team of lawyers recently discussed the development with the CEO of SASB. The NGT, in a case titled “Gauri Maulekhi v/s State of J&K and others”, had passed interim orders on 13 December which, interalia directed that the area from the end point of stairs to the holy cave shall be treated as a silence zone. The NGT expressed concern that the SASB has not implemented its earlier directions like keeping the zone polythene-free and constructing sufficient number of toilets for women.
In its order dated 15 November, the NGT had constituted a committee of experts, headed by additional secretary, ministry of environment, forests and climate change. This committee has been directed to submit its report on various aspects including restrictions on the noise level. The Green Tribunal has expressed concern over the high footfall of pilgrims visiting the Amarnath shrine and has said that it adds to various aspects of pollution in the surrounding areas of the cave and has increased the risk of avalanches in this environmentally fragile area.
There was outrage by different Hindu organisations as the NGT had said earlier that there should be no chanting of mantras, ringing of bells at the Amarnath cave. The NGT later said that it should not be allowed inside the cave, thus modifying its earlier order. SASB officials said they will appeal against the NGT order in a higher court.