NGT restricts Vaishno Devi pilgrims at 50,000 per day
■ The green panel’s directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises
ONLY 50,000 pilgrims per day will be allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu to avoid any untoward incident, as the structure cannot accommodate more than 50,000 persons at one time, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed on Monday.
The green panel also said that a new path to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars will be opened from November 24.
The NGT directed that no horses or mules shall be allowed on the new route to the shrine and these animals shall be removed slowly from the old path as well.
It also directed the authorities to impose a fine (environment compensation) of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads as well as the bus stop at the nearby Katra town. The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar made it clear that if the number of pilgrims exceeds the prescribed 50,000 cap, they will be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town, considering that the Vaishno Devi Bhawan structure cannot accommodate more than 50,000 persons.
The green panel’s directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu, prompting the green panel to seek response from the Govt on the issue.
The petitioner had expressed concern over the “pollution and danger to public health” caused by indiscriminate use of horses, ponies, mules and donkeys, to carry pilgrims and goods from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple.
The main entrance of Vaishno Devi.