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Ministry to fund study on prolonging 'ice lingam'

A group of six geologists drawn from prestigious institutions of the country will be involved in the controversial project, reports Anil Anand.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2007 02:11 IST
Anil Anand

The Ministry of Science and Technology will fund and organise for the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) a scientific study to prolong the life of the 'ice lingam' and correspondingly increase the duration of the pilgrimage to the hill shrine in the Kashmir Valley.

The SASB wants the scientists involved in the project to suggest "methods of prolonging the life of the ice lingam" through a study of its formation and melting patterns. A group of six geologists drawn from prestigious institutions of the country will be involved in the controversial project.

The study team will also take into account geological and weather related hazards to suggest safety measures to keep open the access to the shrine for the pilgrims for at least 3 to 4 months. Currently, the Amarnath yatra does not last beyond 30-40 days in summers.

The SASB has undertaken the project despite a controversy last year over allegation of tampering with the melting lingam--- by putting layers of snow on it---to facilitate darshans by a larger number of pilgrims over a larger period of time. Later, a one-man probe panel headed by Justice KK Gupta gave the Board a clean chit.

Official sources said the Rs one crore project, involving installation of two automatic weather stations, costing Rs 30 lakh each, will be funded by the Department of Science and Technology. One such station will be set up at Baltal, the base camp on the shorter route to the holy cave and the other near the cave itself.

The DST will operate the systems for three years. Thereafter, the project will run by scientists reporting to the SASB. The Ministry has secured an undertaking to this effect from the Board, a senior DST official said.

The experts will monitor data recorded by the weather stations for a period of three to five years before arriving at any conclusion. This is a essential for predicting a 100 year weather cycle, a senior scientist working on the project told the Hindustan Times.

The scientist termed the proposed study a “significant step forward” to analyse climatic variations in the Kashmir Valley. He said it would help generate valuable data on snow cover in Kashmir Himalayas.

The data on snow cover and avalanches in the Sind sub-basin, of which the Amarnath cave is a part, would also help in planning longer use of the Baltal track. The project, the scientist hoped, might also unveil the secret behind the formation of 'ice lingam.'

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First Published: Jan 05, 2007 02:11 IST