Amarnath Shrine Board to preserve Himalayan ecology

March 11th, 2009 - 11:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, March 11 (IANS) The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has decided to fund eco-friendly projects in the areas affected by the huge rush of pilgrims during the two-month long annual pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine of Amarnath in the Himalayan valley.
Accepting the fundamental challenge of preserving ecology in the highly delicate Himalayan environment, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra, who is also the head of the SASB, said here Wednesday that the board would take a firm initiative in funding eco-awareness-cum-conservation campaigns and supplement the afforestation programmes in selected areas.

The SASB has set up a sub-committee, which met here under Vohra’s leadership.

“The governor indicated that time-bound initiatives would be taken to secure the involvement of schoolchildren in carrying out plantation drives under the social forestry programme and holding of debates and essay competitions in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir to enlarge awareness of the urgent need for preserving environment,” an official statement said.

“He also laid emphasis on creating adequate awareness on this vital issue among people, particularly tourists and pilgrims, through screening of documentaries, distribution of pamphlets, installation of hoardings on the national highway from Jammu to Srinagar,” it said.

Vohra reiterated the board’s commitment to preservation of aesthetic and ecological aspects of the Amarnath Yatra and directed the board CEO to set apart a corpus fund so that resources is not a constraint in the implementation of such measures.

The board’s sub-committee on environment recommended that early action should be taken to launch two pilot projects for treating the waste water and sewage through a host of innovative and organic measures for waste disposal involving micro-organism-based technology for decomposition, temporary baffle reactors and reed beds at the Nunwan and Baltal base camps during this year’s pilgrimage.

The sub-committee recommended that certain conditions should be imposed on setting up NGO-run free kitchens for pilgrims to ensure cleanliness, sanitation, hygiene, including the segregation of garbage, and minimising the use of plastic materials.

The environment sub-committee, which had undertaken an aerial survey of the Amarnath cave Tuesday, stressed the need for effectively dealing with the increased effects of climate change on the glaciers in the area of the shrine.

“For this purpose, efforts would be made to minimise the human interference aspect by exploring the possibility of relocating the helipads and other activities which take place close to the vicinity of the holy cave”, the statement said.

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