NGT clarifies: Amarnath cave not a silent zone, aarti, mantra chanting will continue

New Delhi, Dec 14: Following protests over its decision, the National Green Tribunal today clarified it has not declared a "silence zone" at the Amarnath cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that due silence has to be maintained only in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the 'ShivaLinga'. 

A detailed order is still awaited. 

The green tribunal had yesterday declared the cave shrine as a "silence zone" and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point. It had earlier said that declaring the area around the Amarnath cave shrine a "silence zone" would be helpful in preventing avalanches and maintaining its pristine nature. 

The Amarnath cave shrine is considered one of the major holy shrines by the Hindus. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year barring a short period of time in summer when it is opened for pilgrims. NGT's clarification today followed protests by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu right-wing outfit, which had termed its earlier order as a "Tughlaki fatwa" (whimsical whip). It had said that Hindus were not responsible for every ecological problem on the earth. 

However, environment activist Gauri Maulekhi, on whose plea the directions were passed, had welcomed the order and termed it "good and progressive". 

"The Amarnath cave is located in a delicate ecosystem. The directions would make the Amarnath Yatra safe and convenient for the devotees. This would protect the shrine from degradation and ensure it is protected for the coming generations. It is indeed a very good and progressive direction," Maulekhi had told PTI yesterday.


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