New Delhi, Dec 14: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday issued a clarification saying that it did not declare the Amarnath cave shrine a silent zone and that silence has to be maintained only in front of the ice shivlingam (the idol).
Declaring the shrine a silent zone on Wednesday, the green court had barred bells, chants and religious offerings beyond the entry point, news agency IANS reported.
The directions by a bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, were aimed at avoiding avalanches, maintaining the pristine nature of the holy cave and the eco-sensitivity of the region.
The decision invited protests from Hindu groups who called the order a diktat. However, a detailed order is awaited.
NGT appointed a committee on November 15 to look at environment protection during the annual Amarnath Yatra, had sought the authorities to ensure that the directions come into force before January 18, the next date of hearing.
Considered one of the holiest shrines in Hindu mythology, the Amarnath shrine, situated in the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, is visited by lakhs of devotees during the pilgrimage season in the monsoon.
This year the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine witnessed more than 2.6 lakh pilgrims over 40 days between June 29 and August 7.