New Delhi, Nov 7: In a significant milestone, the Border Roads Organisation created history by driving its vehicles right up to the Amarnath cave after widening the pedestrian track that passes through rugged mountainous terrain from Baltal to the shrine.
The BRO feat comes months after the central government announced a Rs 5,300-crore Amarnath Marg, made up of a 110km motorable road and a 5km concrete pedestrian track, to the cave shrine in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.
The widening of the road from Dumail to the Amarnath cave via Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir has been completed.
"Project Beacon is involved in the restoration and improvement of Amarnath Yatra tracks. Border Roads personnel completed the formidable task and created history with the first set of vehicles reaching the holy cave," the BRO posted on X.
Earlier, the J&K government’s Public Works Department (PWD) was maintaining the Baltal route in the Ganderbal district and the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) maintained the Pahalgam route in the Anantnag district.
The UT administration in September last year handed over the tracks to the BRO for maintenance and upgradation. The BRO undertook the road widening project to ease the difficulties faced by the pilgrims who traditionally had to travel to the cave shrine on foot.
With the motorable road reaching the Amarnath cave shrine, the pilgrimage would become more accessible and comfortable for the devotees.
However, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) criticised the move calling it the “biggest crime” committed to the faith of Hindus.
“This is not history, it's the biggest crime one can commit to Hinduism and its faith in nature. Hinduism is all about immersing in spiritual mother nature, that's why our pilgrimages are in the lap of the Himalayas,” PDP spokesperson Mohit Bhan posted on X.
Bhan said turning religious pilgrimages into picnic spots for “mere political gains” is worth condemnation. “We have seen the wrath of God in Joshimath, Kedarnath and yet we are learning no lessons instead inviting a catastrophe in Kashmir,” the PDP leader said.
The BJP’s J&K unit hit back at the PDP saying laying of the concrete road up to the holy cave shrine is being done after proper Environmental Impact Assessment and no trees have been cut. “With the shrine of Baba Amarnath, lakhs of people have their faith. PDP by opposing and finding faults in the road stretch is trying to repeat the 2008 land row, but people are wise enough and won't fall prey to politics of deceit again,” the BJP’s J-K spokesperson Altaf Thakur said in a statement.