Press Trust of india

Protest in Katra against proposed Vaishno Devi ropeway project

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Jammu: Cutting across party lines, leaders of the BJP, Congress and the Democratic Azad Party joined thousands of people in Katra on Tuesday in a peaceful protest against a proposed ropeway project at the Vaishno Devi shrine.

On February 20, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said the ropeway project for the cave shrine is in the final phase of tendering and will be undertaken with utmost sensitivity to safeguard the interests of the local business community.

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) recently approved a Rs 250-crore passenger ropeway project between Tarakote Marg to Sanji Chhat along the 12-km track to the revered shrine.

A complete shutdown was also observed in the town and along the Vaishno Devi track as people gathered outside the headquarters of the shrine board and submitted a memorandum.

Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, Anshul Garg said the ropeway is meant to facilitate elderly, medically unfit and disabled people.

“The board has never worked against the interests of local stakeholders while improving facilities for devotees. We have experience of running a ropeway from the holy shrine to Bhairav Ghati for the past four years,” he said.

Garg said technical teams will be visiting Katra in the coming days to explore the feasibility of such a project.

“The office of the board is open for people round the clock, and if they have any issue, we will discuss it to reach a consensus. We all are here to welcome and facilitate the devotees,” he said.

The protesters, however, said they will not allow the construction of the ropeway at any cost as it will render the locals jobless.

Development Council member Rajinder Mengi said people are united in their demand that the project should be abandoned immediately.

BJP district president Rohit Dubey and Congress district president Rajesh Sadotra said they stand with the demand of the public.

“The development is welcome but not at the cost of people’s livelihood,” Sadotra said.

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