SC STAYS NGT ORDER ON NEW PATH TO VAISHNO DEVI SHRINE

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New Delhi, The Hush Post: The Supreme Court has stayed the National Green Tribunal’s direction of starting a new alternate path to the Vaishno Devi shrine by the November 24 deadline. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board submitted that it was not possible to start the new route from November 24 as the path was under construction and could only be operational by February next year.The Shrine Board had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the NGT order. The alternate route recommended by the NGT would cover the path from Banganga to Arthkunwari for pedestrians and battery operated cars only. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, on behalf of the Board, argued that two paths to the shrine were already in use by pedestrians to reach the shrine and the new passage would be the third one. He contended that the NGT can only look into the environmental aspect and the orders on alternate route does not fall under its purview.

The Bench comprising Justice MB Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also issued notice to the petitioner Gauri Maulekhi, a social activist, who had filed a plea at the National Green Tribunal. The court also agreed to consider the issue of capping the number of pilgrims reaching the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine to 50,000 a day.

The green panel had in its November 13 order also said that no mules and ponies would be allowed on the new route and would slowly be removed from the old path and had also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 for littering the roads.

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