The Jammu and Kashmir government today faced flak from the National Green Tribunal on poor solid waste management in Katra, the base camp of the Vaishnodevi shrine in Reasi district.
“Why have you created such a mess in Katra? It is the most revenue earning town in the state. Your bus station is in horrible condition with garbage and polythene spread all over the area. Everybody throws waste here and there as there are no dustbins. Why don’t you do something about the bus station.
“The whole bus station is overcrowded with buses and there is hardly any space to walk. Besides, there are shops all over. You better regulate it or we will shut them down,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said adding “shrine board is equally responsible for doing nothing.”
The green panel also prohibited the use of any kind of plastic by shopkeepers and directed the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to issue appropriate notification in this regard.
The bench asked the state government to prepare an action plan to deal with different sources of pollution and directed the Power Secretary to be present on January 28, the next date of hearing.
The Tribunal had on October 18, last year sought reply from the J and K government and the Shrine Board on a plea by an environment activist Gauri Maulekhi to stop the use of equines (horses, ponies, mules and donkeys) on the 14 km-trail to the temple.
“The large number of pilgrims has a direct correlation to the increase in the use of equines employed to carry pilgrims and their luggage to and from the shrine during peak seasons such as Navratras and the holidays …
“Consequently, large amounts of untreated solid and liquid wastes generated by pilgrims are disposed directly into Banganga river. A large proportion of this waste is generated by the 15,000-20,000 horses, mules and ponies deployed to carry the pilgrims on the 14 km trail to the Mata Vaishno Devi temple,” the plea had said.