Narrow, vulnerable Amarnath Yatra tracks widened to make pilgrim movement more convenient, says BRO
Srinagar: The Border Roads Organisation on Friday said it has widened the “narrow and vulnerable” tracks leading up to the Amarnath shrine to make pilgrims travelling on foot/palkis/ponies more comfortable and convenient.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) recently released a video that showed the first set of vehicles reaching Amarnath after the road connectivity up to the cave shrine was expanded.
“Project Beacon is involved in the restoration and improvement of Amarnath Yatra tracks. Border Roads (Organisation) personnel completed the formidable task and created history with the first set of vehicles reaching the holy cave,” the BRO had said in the post on its official handle on X.
The news of vehicles reaching the cave shrine, however, triggered huge criticism. Political parties demanded a relook into allowing vehicles near the cave shrine nestled in the Himalayas and said the move would be detrimental to the environment.
In a statement on Friday, the BRO clarified that it had been quoted in print and social media as having stated that the pilgrims visiting Amarnath would soon be able to access the cave shrine through the vehicular road.
“Rebutting the news, the BRO quoted this to be factually incorrect,” the statement said.
The work assigned to the BRO for maintenance and upgradation of the Yatra track by the Union Territory government in September 2022 is going on at a steady pace during the working window available, it said.
“The work of widening of tracks leading to the holy cave has been undertaken in line with the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” it added.
The Supreme Court, on a writ petition filed in 2012, inter alia issued directions for sufficient widening of the tracks to facilitate pedestrian traffic and address congestion, improvement of critical stretches of the existing track, and providing safety railings and retaining walls along the vulnerable stretches, keeping in view the environmental concerns, it added.
“In line with the above, the BRO has undertaken widening of the tracks meant for the movement of yatris on foot, by palkis/dandies and on ponies,” it said.
After the handing over of the Yatra tracks by the Union Territory government in September 2022, the BRO has undertaken the work on widening the tracks in many stretches, improving the gradients, providing stronger safety railings and retaining walls on vulnerable stretches, keeping in view the environmental concerns, it added.
“This contributed to substantial improvement in the satisfaction level of the yatris, and making the movement of yatris on tracks safer,” it said.
In order to continue with the work, which could not be completed before the last Yatra, the organisation, by engaging men and machinery, has widened many remaining portions of the tracks that were narrow and vulnerable, the BRO said.
“This will make the movement of yatris visiting the holy shrine on foot/palkis/dandies and ponies more comfortable and convenient,” it added.