Guv chairs meeting to discuss mule owners’ issue

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, who is also the Chairman of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, on Monday chaired a meeting of the Committee of the Board comprising Jammu based Members of the Board and discussed issues relating to mule owners/ handlers operating on the track between Katra and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.
The Meeting discussed a note prepared by the Chief Secretary, in compliance to the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), in the matter Gauri Maulekhi Vs State of J&K and Ors.
The Meeting discussed the NGT’s directions and the issues relating to the rehabilitation of mule operators.
The meeting agreed that for the satisfactory management of the pilgrimage to the Holy Cave Shrine the availability of a given number of ponies shall necessarily be required, to meet the requirements of the pilgrims.
It was further decided that in the context of the complaints/protestations organized by the pony operators (in the wake of NGT’s directions to State Government), which were supported by political parties/leaders, the board members were of the view that, for ensuring the peaceful conduct of the Yatra the State Government should take an overall view in the matter, particularly keeping in mind that a much larger number of pony/mule operators support the Shri Amarnath Yatra.
They also noted that ponies were in demand by tourists visiting Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg and other places of tourist attraction.
The members urged Chief Secretary to timely seek the State Cabinet’s directions in the matter.
Meanwhile the Governor emphasised the need for a holistic/harmonious view being arrived at for time bound measures being taken to ensure the best possible rehabilitation of all the registered mule owners/handlers.
The meeting, held at the Raj Bhavan Jammu, was attended by B B Vyas, Chief Secretary (and Member of the Board); Dr. S. S. Bloeria, Dr. Ashok Bhan, H. L. Maini and Maj. Gen. (Retd) Shiv Kumar Sharma, all Jammu based Members of the Board. Dr. M. K. Kumar, Additional CEO of the Shrine Board, participated in the discussions.