Once the limit of 50,000 is reached, devotees will be stopped either at Ardhkumari or Katra.
Jammu and Kashmir:
The green court today limited the number of devotees allowed to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir to 50,000 per day, taking into account the increasing pressure of pilgrims on the shrine and its impact on the region. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) said once the limit is reached, devotees will be stopped either at Ardhkumari or Katra.
A new path to Vaishno Devi for pedestrians and battery-operated cars will also be thrown open from November 24, said the NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar. No horses or mules will be allowed on this route and they shall be removed slowly from the old path, the court said. There will be a fine of Rs 2,000 on anyone found littering the roads. New constructions inside the shrine complex have also been put on hold.
The green panel's directions came during the hearing of a plea filed by an activist seeking directions to stop the use of horses and ponies there. The petitioner expressed concern over "pollution and danger to public health" caused by indiscriminate use of horses, ponies, mules and donkeys to carry pilgrims and goods from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple.
Last year, the green court had directed the CEO of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to provide the details of the municipal solid waste (MSW) and sewage treatment plants (STPs) installed there and the remedial steps measures taken to tackle the problem after a plea that a large amount of untreated solid and liquid waste generated by pilgrims as well as horses, mules and ponies was disposed directly into Banganga river.