NGT declares Amarnath Cave shrine a 'Silent Zone'
December 15, 2017

In order to protect the eco-sensitive Amarnath cave shrine, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) declared it a "silence zone" and prohibited religious offerings like chanting of hymns, and ringing bells beyond the entry point.

The Amarnath cave temple is situated in the Himalayas in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

The NGT bench led by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed that Amarnath Shrine Board should make sure that proper infrastructural facilities are given to the pilgrims so that they are not deprived of a clear and comfortable darshan, and the ecosystem of the area is maintained.

Why?
As per NGT, declaring the area around the Amarnath cave shrine a "silence zone" would be useful in averting the avalanches and help in maintaining its pristine nature.
It also said that declaring it as ‘Silent zone’ would help in reducing the noise pollution near the sacred structure.
This would shield the shrine from degradation and it would make sure that it is protected for the future generations.

Important key points

The NGT said that nobody would be allowed to bring anything off the stairs leading to the sacred cave and everybody should be properly checked at the entry point.

The green panel asked the shrine board to remove the iron grills in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga so that devotees could get a better view of it.
 
The NGT banned any personal belongings, including phones, beyond the last checkpoint. It asked the shrine board to construct a place for keeping devotees valuables.

The green panel also directed the committee of experts headed by an additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit an action plan on providing facilities to the pilgrims within three weeks.

Background
The NGT, In November this year, rapped the Amarnath Shrine Board for not providing proper infrastructural facilities to devotees going to Amarnath.
The green panel also asked the Amarnath Shrine Board about non-compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 and asked the board what actions were taken in these years.

The bench asked the experts committee to submit a report on providing a proper path and declaring the cave shrine a "silence zone".