Crowded at the top


Unchecked numbers threaten to turn the Amarnath Yatra into a disaster zone.

The disaster in Uttarakhand where 6,000 people are missing, presumed dead, is a prime example of a place of pilgrimage overburdened with rampant construction and unchecked numbers of pilgrims. But unless lessons are learnt another, equally deadly, disaster awaits us in the Kashmir Valley during the Amarnath Yatra.

“This yatra is a cocktail of politics, ecology and religion being played out 3,888 metres above sea level,” says Srinagar businessman Sarwar Hussain, who has stakes in tourism. As he and his family have a cottage in Pahalgam that they visit regularly, they see the transformation that the little shepherd’s village ( pahal is shepherd; gaam, village) undergoes during the 55 days of the yatra. “Suddenly, there are long lines of buses and poorly maintained trucks spewing diesel fumes, waiting at the toll gate of Pahalgam. There are throngs of pilgrims, some of who are in patently bad health.” It is not only Hussain who is alarmed at the ever-increasing crowds and mounting piles of rotting garbage, but just about every resident of Pahalgam, from pony-walas onwards.

Full report here Business Line


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