SASB regrets controversies over Amarnath yatra

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Srinagar, May 24 (UNI) Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has regretted the controversies being raked up over the annual pilgrimage to holy cave shrine, starting June 18.

A spokesman of the SASB appreciated the genuine concern for fragile ecology of Kashmir and said that unfortunately some reports have the potential of creating confusion in the public mind though it might not be the intention of the media to do so.

''We have been reiterating that all precautions are being taken to preserve the ecology of the area'', the spokesman said, adding that even minor details are taken care of while raising temporary facilities like toilets and hutments.

He wished the environmentalists to see for themselves the measures being taken to maintain health and hygiene in the camping sites and enroute the cave shrine.

The Spokesman referred to the recent meetings held at Baltal and Pahalgam and said that a senior leader of National Conference (NC) Mian Altaf Ahmed, appreciated the measures after going round the camp.

Similarly, Mr Mohammed Rafi Mir, MLC also lauded the Board for the arrangements at Pahalgam and promptly responding to the demands of the locals.

He added that cutting across party lines, the people have generally been appreciative of the steps being taken to regulate the yatra with emphasis on the preservation of environment.

'' We are open to pragmatic suggestions for further improving the facilities but summarily describing the yatra as threat to Kashmir's environment is not realistic''.

Reacting to reports that the State Forest Minister was not aware about the helipads on the forestland at Baltal and near the shrine, the spokesman clarified that these existed before the Board took over the charge of the yatra.

'How come that nobody in the government knows about the existence of these helipads', he asked, saying that the then Chief Minister and the Forest Minister saw these helipads when they flew to the cave shrine in 2004 and 2005.

Even the then Tourism Minister, Mr Ghulam Hassan Mir inaugurated the heli-service to the Holy Cave through the State Tourism Department on June 21, 2005 ahead of such service launched by the Shrine Board.


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