Amarnath yatra a factor in Kashmir deluge, says Swami Agnivesh

Greater Kashmir

New Delhi, Oct 25:  Social activist and Hindu religious scholar Swami Agnivesh today said that the prolonged Amarnath yatra had a role in the unprecedented flood that recently hit the Valley. He said the yatra had adversely impacted the fragile environment in the upper reaches of Valley leading to the melting of the glaciers.
Relating Kashmir’s devastating floods with the long duration of Amarnath Yatra, social activist and Hindu religious scholar Swami Agnivesh Saturday said that floods hit Kashmir as the Valley’s fragile environment was badly affected due to the long duration of Amarnath Yatra.
 Talking to CNS, Agnivesh said that nobody can deny this fact that Amarnath Yatra has been disturbing the environment of Kashmir and this disruption is one of the reasons for recent floods that ravaged Kashmir valley and hit its economy badly. “Nobody will dare to tell you this, but I am telling you and you must admit this fact that the Amarnath Yatra whose duration was stretched in a planned way is the source of catastrophe for the people of Kashmir,” he said.
 Agnivesh said the Yatra had no essence and that it had been given importance just to ensure that there is Hindu presence in Kashmir. “Amarnath yatra is a cocktail. It is the combination of religion and tourism and both the Hindu zealot groups and tourism department want to reap maximum benefits out of it,” he said.
  He said that if the duration and the number of pilgrims are not reduced, then surely in future the yatra will prove disastrous for Kashmir.
    He said that lakhs of people are visiting the cave. “The increased human traffic is threatening the environment in this fragile ecosystem, a major source of water for the Indus River. Scientists are now grappling with how to protect the headwaters of Kashmir Valley,” he said.
     He said that with lax restrictions on pilgrims, their numbers and with it the trash and contamination. “The snow-capped mountains along the trail are now black with the pollution generated from hundreds of thousands of people. To reach the cave, pilgrims litter the path with piles of garbage, water bottles, gas cylinders, human faeces, and occasional horse carcasses. The increased traffic should worry the conscious citizens of India. Thousands of pilgrims emit radiation at 37 degrees Celsius, whether it is a pilgrim or anybody else. All this encourages the melting of snow and glacier resources in the region,” Agnivesh told CNS.
    Responding to a question, Agnivesh told CNS that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not allowing international aid for the flood affected people as he feels that India can manage the calamity. “It is the question of self-respect that bars Modi to disallow international agencies to aid people of Kashmir,” he said adding that the international aid should be allowed in Kashmir so that this beautiful valley could be re-build. We must shun politics of hatred and come forward to extend helping hand to our Kashmir brothers and sisters who need help at this critical juncture”. (CNS)