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J&K government allocates land for Amarnath yatra

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
September 25, 2008 22:45 IST
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The Jammu and Kashmir government has set aside 40 hectares of forest land for use by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board during the two month long annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine as per the agreement reached between the government panel and the Amarnath Yatra Sangarash Samiti which spearheaded two month long agitation in Jammu.

A communication to this effect was conveyed to the chief executive officer of the  SASB by the state government in Srinagar on Thursday.

According to an official spokesman, in a communication addressed to the CEO of the SASB, the state government has informed the shrine board of the specific arrangements for use of the land at Baltal-Domail, traditionally under use for annual yatra purposes, in pursuance of the aforesaid agreement between the state government and the AYSS.

The spokesman added that, as per the communication, issued to the chief executive officer of the SASB, the proprietary status/ownership/title of the land shall not undergo any change; the board shall use the aforesaid land only for the duration of the yatra (including the period of making the required arrangements and winding up of the same) for the purpose of use by each of the various service providers according to its needs and priorities, as determined by the board.

Further, the use of the land shall be only for raising  temporary pre-fabricated accommodation and toilet facilities by the board; establishment of tented accommodation by private camping agencies and setting up of shops by shopkeepers (locals, permanent residents of the State);  facilities for Ponywallahs and Pithuwallahs; provision of healthcare and medical facilities; setting up of free langars by private persons and groups which are licensed by the board and facilities for helicopter operations/ parking of vehicles and security arrangements.

The spokesman said that the board shall continue to remain responsible for the overall arrangements of the yatra on both the routes during the yatra period, including all arrangements as mandated under the provisions of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Act.

It may be recalled that the land row triggered a fierce agitation in the valley in June this year, which forced the government to cancel the land allotment order, which set off a counter agitation in Jammu.

The Jammu agitation spearheaded by AYSS, a broad conglomerate of various political, social and trade organisations claimed eleven lives and cost millions in terms of the financial loss to the region.

It also resulted in 'economic blockade' to the valley which led to the demand of opening of the Srinagar Muzaffarabad road and now a trade boycott by the valley traders against Jammu based suppliers

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar