Day on, NGT clarifies:No ban on chants at Amarnath shrine

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New Delhi, December 14

The National Green Tribunal today clarified that it has not imposed any restriction on chanting of mantras and singing of bhajans inside the Amarnath cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.Following protests over its decision, the green panel said that it had neither intended nor declared the entire area as a “silent zone”.It said the only restriction imposed was that any devotee or any individual should maintain silence while standing in front of the Amarnath Ji Maha Shivling, a natural formation in the cave.A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the restriction was not applicable to any other part, including the main stairs leading to the holy cave.The tribunal also clarified that on the last part of the stairs, approximately 30 steps leading to the holy cave, it should be ensured that no pilgrim carried any material as already practised by the shrine board. There was no restriction of any kind below the stairs, it added.“The one-way queue of visitors/pilgrims will be maintained at the shrine. The directions will be complied with by all concerned. The directions in our considered view are required to maintain the sanctity and pristine condition of the holy cave on the one hand while on the other to ensure that there is no adverse impact of noise, heat, vibrations etc. upon the Amarnath Ji Maha Shivling, so that the pilgrims coming in the later part of the limited period available to the pilgrimage are also able to have the darshan of the Amarnath Ji Maha Shivling,” the bench said.The NGT directed its Registry to send the copy of this order to the secretary of the Ministry of the Environment and Forests, Chief Secretary of the J&K Government, CEO of the Amarnath Shrine Board and the local authorities of the area.

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