Omar criticises construction of motorable road up to Amarnath shrine, says playing with environment not good

Omar criticises construction of motorable road up to Amarnath shrine, says playing with environment not good

Srinagar, Nov 7 (PTI) National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah Tuesday questioned the construction of a motorable road up to the Amarnath cave shrine and said playing with the environment in such a way was not good as it was akin to destroying it.

He said the annual pilgrimage to the shrine has been going on for years and there was no need to take vehicles there.

'To provide some ease is one thing, but there is a dire need to have a relook at the matter. Taking vehicles to such places is akin to destroying them. Since the yatra has started, people from here have carried the yatris on their shoulders and will continue to do so. Playing with our environment in such a way is not good,' Abdullah told reporters here.

It has become usual to face some difficulties during the yatra. 'When we go for Haj, do we undertake Tawaf in a vehicle? No, we do that on foot. People visit Mata Vaishno Devi shrine for darshan and many go on foot and do not use vehicles, etc.,' he said.

Vehicles reach the shrine now after the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) completed the widening of the road from Dumail to the Amarnath cave via Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir.

'Courts have given many rulings to save greenbelts. There is no permission to construct anything on the banks of the Dal Lake. Those living in the interiors of the lake are not even allowed to renovate their houses.

'There is no permission to renovate hotels in Pahalgam. Work has been stopped in Gulmarg and Sonamarg because of the (concerns of) environment. If Dal, Pahalgam, Gulmarg or Sonamarg has to be protected, then is it not our responsibility to protect the environment near the Amarnath cave?” he asked.

To a question about differences in the opposition bloc INDIA, Abdullah said if the alliance was not to have seat-sharing arrangement in state elections, then it should have been made clear in the first place.

'I joined every meeting of the alliance, this issue of having alliance for the assembly elections was raised continuously and no decision was taken. The results are now before us and all the members of the alliance are now saying things against each other in the elections in Madhya Pradesh, etc,” he said.

The Congress has stated that the alliance is for the parliamentary elections only, Abdullah said and questioned how was the NC-Congress win in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil polls dubbed as the victory of the INDIA alliance.

'If that is true, then why did the INDIA alliance get the credit for the results in Kargil? I want the alliance members to sit immediately after the elections in the five states and resolve the differences so that when the parliamentary elections take place in April-May, we show a good performance,” he added.

On the petitions in the Supreme Court in the Article 370 matter, the NC leader said the decision has to be announced before Justice Sanjay Koul retires in December.

'When the CJI & four judges arrive at some conclusion, they will announce their decision. One of the judges is retiring in December and it is imperative to announce a decision before that because if he retires before the decision is announced, then the whole process ceases and the hearings have to be restarted,” he said.

“We are hopeful of justice,” he added.

On the Jammu and Kashmir administration order barring demonstrations and strikes by employees, Abdullah said there should be a way for the employees to raise their issues.

'If the government does not allow them, then at least it should tell them how to resolve their genuine demands.... This government does not have any coordination, not even with the employees. There should be a discussion with the leaders of the employees to resolve the issues,' he said. PTI SSB SMN

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