Supreme Court Amarnath Ruling Runs Into Protest

Supreme Court Amarnath Ruling Runs Into Protest

18 August 2012
Times of India
M. Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Resistance to making the journey to Amarnath smoother and safer could snowball in Kashmir following separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq's protest against the Supreme Court's direction to the government to construct roads and build infrastructure on the route. Farooq says it would disturb the region's delicate ecological balance. 'If the road construction is taken up in the area, it would lead to felling of trees. This will trigger an ecological disaster in this environmentally sensitive region,' Mirwaiz said on Friday. He said it would increase pollution and result in the melting of glaciers. The Supreme Court had issued directions to build infrastructure on the Amarnath route after taking cognizance of 100 deaths during the pilgrimage to the shrine this year. Mirwaiz while asking the court to consider the environmental aspect of any move to felling of lush green trees, accused the government of 'taking the judiciary's shield' on issues involving public resistance. A civil society group, comprising academics and journalists, echoed the Mirwaiz on Saturday and warned that politicization of the pilgrimage could be fraught with serious consequences. 'We strongly believe that the principles of conservation of environment and administrative facilitation as applied to the pilgrimage to holy Gangotri and the larger conservation plans for the holy Ganga river be applied to the pilgrimage to Amarnath cave shrine as was the established practice in the past,' the group said in a statement. 'Application of uniform principles of conservation and protection are not only necessitated by the imperatives of the National Environment Policy and the National Forest Policy but also emphasized by the uniform standards of judicial principles.' The 31-member group said they support administrative measures to ensure good health and well-being of the pilgrims. 'Construction of roads and cable cars will not help in preventing deaths because of the inherent health risks in high altitude travel.'