Augment infrastructure for Amarnath Yatra at distance from riverbed: NGT
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed that necessary safeguards be adopted for the safety of pilgrims and protection of the environment during the Amarnath Yatra.
Along with augmenting infrastructure, the NGT said “activities and arrangements” be made “at a distance from the riverbed”.
The tribunal was hearing a petition, which claimed that environmental and safety norms were violated in setting up tents for pilgrims on the dry riverbed near the holy cave of Amarnath. It added that because of non-compliance with norms, 16 persons on the yatra died during a flash flood on July 1.
In July, a bench of Chairperson Justice AK Goel said the tribunal sought a response on the issue from the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The authorities concerned had submitted a reply saying they were bound to comply with environmental norms and committed to ensuring that such disasters were never repeated.
The incident was a natural disaster and beyond the control of human efforts, the bench said noting the reply.
The bench, also comprising Judicial Member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Expert Member A Senthil Vel, said, “It is well known that Amarnath Yatra is an important programme involving the visit of a large number of pilgrims to the holy cave and it is thus necessary that safeguards are adopted for the safety of the pilgrims and protection of the environment.
“Apart from flood protection measures and discouraging overnight stay at the cave camp, augmentation of infrastructure is necessary and this may include hygiene, sanitation, safety and catering to the other basic needs.”
The tribunal also said the activities and arrangements should be at a distance from the riverbed in the interest of the safety of visitors and the environment “as far as possible”.
The tribunal also directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Union Territory’s chief secretary and the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board for compliance.