WHEN MIRACLES spin money, it's good business to act in bad faith. And this is not the first time the Amarnath shrine board has tried to prevent a meltdown.
Last year, ten days after the pilgrimage began on June 21, 20 per cent of the nine-feet plus shiv lingam had melted. The board, which earns crores from the annual pilgrimage, got cracking. It came up with the idea of installing a " radiant cooling panel designed by IIT Mumbai at the shrine" to prevent lingam from melting, then board CEO Arun Kumar said. The device would have kept the temperature at freezing point.
But the state government played spoilsport. It moved the HC arguing that the board's move would interfere with the sanctity of the place. Though the court ruled in favour of the board, the government again made an appeal. "That appeal is still there," said Vijay Bakaya, former chief secretary and currently advisor to the CM.
So this year, when the lingam failed to form by mid-May, a meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) headed by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S K Sinha was held to approve setting up an artificial one. The Governor's assent was not too hard to get, said sources, and soon the board invited quotations from five dry ice supplying factories in Delhi. A coat of dry ice on the pile of natural snow ensured that the lingam would survive the heat of summers.