J&K cabinet revokes shrine land transfer
Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday revoked the controversial order transferring 39.88 hectares of forest land to Amarnath shrine board in a bid to resolve the 10-day-old crisis on the issue.
The decision to cancel the order was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at his residence in Srinagar after the shrine board decided against pursuing its claim over the land.
In its order, the cabinet directed the Tourism Department to make adequate provisions in its annual budget keeping in view the ever increasing number of Amarnath pilgrims.
This would allow existing facilities for pilgrims not only to be properly maintained but also upgraded annually.
The cabinet said that land would be made available to the Tourism Department as per the requirements at various locations for the pilgrimage from Jammu onwards to the cave shrine via Baltal and Pahalgam routes.
The cabinet also emphasised that the state government was fully committed not to interfere in the religious affairs of the shrine board.
The cabinet decision came in the wake of a letter written by governor N N Vohra, who is also chairman of the board, to the chief minister on June 29 in which he had stated that in view of the state government's firm commitment that the requirements and interests of the pilgrims will be fully ensured, the board did not need to pursue its earlier request for forest land.
According to the cabinet order, the government reiterated its full commitment to discharge all the responsibilities of undertaking the creation of required infrastructure and providing all logistical support for making available various services to the pilgrims.