The J&K administration has handed over the twin routes to the Amarnath cave shrine in highly ecological-sensitive locations in south and central Kashmir to the Border Roads Organizations (BRO) for maintenance.
In the latest order by the Roads and Buildings department on Tuesday, the government decided to transfer the Chandanwari- Sheshnag-Panchtarni-Holy Cave, which is an unlaid rocky trek, and the Baltal-Holy Cave tracks to the BRO “for development, maintenance and management”.
“The Government has also approved transfer of Ranga to Baltal road including Nilgrath to Y-Junction to the Border Roads Organization for development and maintenance,” the order said.
The previous J&K regimes faced opposition in the past from locals as well as from regional parties for paving any concrete path up to the cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,657 metres.
The surrounding basins of the cave shrine are feeding glaciers for many streams, including the famous Lidder stream in Pahalgam. Both Pahalgam in south Kashmir and Sonamarg in central Kashmir are used as base camps and are covered by dense forests.
The Supreme Court and other Court directions issued from time to time would be implemented in letter and spirit and would be subject to any petition pending in the court of law,” the order added.
According to the order, the BRO will acquire statutory clearance, if required at any stage, for the forest area.
“Both tracks leading to the holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath Ji in South Kashmir Himalayas are tough to trek and are closed sometimes because of snowfall and landslides. The BRO has experts and modernized machinery for clearance of the tracks,” the order said.
It said all the project reports and work proposals would be approved by the High Level Coordination Committee of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for its execution.
An order by the J&K government to hand over 800 kanals of land to the Amarnath shrine in 2008 resulted in the fall of the Congress-Peoples Democratic Party government in J&K, following several months of street agitation by locals. Several civilians in the Kashmir and Jammu regions were killed in clashes with the security forces over the issue.
“The Government has also approved transfer of Ranga to Baltal road including Nilgrath to Y-Junction to the Border Roads Organization for development and maintenance”Roads and Buildings department order