New Delhi, April 16: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a stay on an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposing a fine of Rs 15 lakh on the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and the Jammu & Kashmir government for delay in formulating a rehabilitation package for mules and horses used during the pilgrimage.
The court also granted the J&K government two weeks’ time for coming up with a rehabilitation plan for the animals and for a plan on reducing pollution in Banganga river. Meanwhile, it also set aside the NGT order declaring the Amarnath cave area a “silence zone”.
This isn’t the first time that the Supreme Court has set aside an NGT order regarding Vaishno Devi shrine. Last year, the apex court had set aside an NGT order against the opening of a new path, for pedestrians and battery-operated vehicles, starting November 24. The NGT had also capped the number of daily visitors to the shrine at 50,000. The panel had also recommended a fine of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads as well as the bus stop at the Katra base camp.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was formed in 1986 and since then, it has been responsible for the management of the shrine as well as the pilgrimage. Devotees undertake the yatra throughout the year and thousands of them arrive at the temple on a daily basis. The Vaishno Devi Mandir is located on Trikuta mountains at an altitude of 5200 ft. about 13.5 kms from Katra. Various modes of transportation are used to get to the temple, like ponies, horses and battery-operated vehicles.