Road to Amarnath cave will only facilitate pedestrian traffic: BRO

Srinagar, Nov 10 (Representative) Amid the controversy over the road to Amarnath cave shrine, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) on Friday clarified that the road which has been widened will only facilitate pedestrian traffic and address congestion on the track for the yatris.BRO recently claimed to have created history by driving their vehicles right up to the Amarnath cave after widening the pedestrian track from Baltal in Ganderbal up to the shrine. The announcement by the BRO came under criticism by several Kashmiri politicians fearing that it will adversely impact the fragile ecology of the area.However, BRO said the reports that yatris visiting cave would soon be able to access through vehicular road is not true. They said the work was assigned to BRO for maintenance and upgradation of Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra track by the UT Government in September, 2022 and it is going on at steady pace during the working window available to it.

“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. Pertinent to mention that the Hon’ble Court in WP © 284 of 2012, interalia, issued the directions for sufficient widening of tracks to facilitate pedestrian traffic and address congestion on the track, improvement of critical stretches of the existing track, provide safety railings and retaining walls along the vulnerable stretches etc. keeping in view the environmental concerns,” the BRO said. In line with orders, the BRO said that it has undertaken widening of the tracks meant for movement of yatris on foot, by palkis/ dandies and on ponies.“ After the handing over of the yatra tracks in September, 2022 to BRO by the Government of UT of J&K, it has undertaken the work on widening of the tracks in many stretches, improving the gradients of the tracks providing stronger safety railings and retaining walls in vulnerable stretches along the track keeping in view the environmental concerns,” the statement said.

This contributed to substantial improvement in satisfaction level of the yatris, and making the movement of yatris on tracks safer, it added In order to continue with the work which could not be completed before the last yatra, BRO, by engaging men and machinery, has widened many remaining portions of the tracks which were narrow and vulnerable. “This will make the movement of yatris visiting the Holy Shrine on foot/ palkies/ dandies and ponies more comfortable and convenient,” BRO said. The cave of Shri Amarnath Ji in south Kashmir is situated at a height of about 3,888 meters above sea level, and the Yatra holds immense significance as a holy pilgrimage for Hindus. Annually, thousands of devotees participate in the Amarnath Yatra, and this year, more than 4.5 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the cave shrine.In April this year, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, announced that the 110 km-long Amarnath Marg leading to the holy Amarnath cave in Pahalgam would be built at a cost of around Rs 5300 crore for the convenience of the pilgrims going to Shri Amarnath Shrine.