Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Helicopter sorties changed to prevent melting of Amarnath ice lingam

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 14, 2009

Jammu To avoid the premature melting of Shiv Lingam at Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas due to daily helicopter sorties near the cave, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has decided to find an alternate helipad site away from the cave shrine for which the Board team has conducted an aerial survey.

Sources said that after experts pointed out that the pressure waves due to landing and taking off of the helicopters near the cave was contributing to the melting of the ice Shiv Lingam, the Board decided to shift the helipad away from the cave shrine. Sources said that the chief executive officer SASB BB Vyas himself conducted the aerial survey of the proposed alternate helipad site, away from the main sanctum sanctorum. Sources said that the alternate site is being shifted after environments and the geoscientists repeatedly recommended that the helipad be shifted.

This time the SASB is very careful about positioning of various facilities around the cave, keeping in mind the fragile environment around the cave. The CEO has even instructed the officials to prepare detailed lay-out plans for the sites of various facilities at the cave and at all the other camping sites so that various facilities can be positioned in a systematic manner.

Environmental Advisor to SASB, Dr CM Seth said that he had earlier recommended that the helipad needs to be shifted away from the cave to avoid premature melting of the ice Shiv Lingum. “Now the survey is being done and the technical officers will help the Board in locating the ideal alternate site for the helipad” he said. Dr Seth said that even the heavy sound waves from the helicopter sorties can contribute in the melting of the ice lignum.

Noted glaciologist Prof MN Koul, who has researched on the glaciers in the Amarnath area and has even written a book Glaciomorphology of Lidder Valley, said that he had pointed this in the very beginning when the controversy over the melting of the Lingum had arisen. Prof Koul was consulted that time by the SASB to point out the reasons for the premature melting of the ice Shiv Lingam.

Prof MN Koul, who formerly headed the Geography department at Jammu University, and has been studying various glaciers in the North Western Himalayas for the last two decades, said that the size of the Shiv Lingam mainly depends on two environmental factors, the phases of the moon and the ambient temperature inside the cave. He said though exact scientific studies are yet to be carried out, the factors that are contributing to the melting of the Lingam include regular helicopters sorties that cause warm air waves near the mouth of the cave, possible effects of 2005 earthquake, global warming, increased pollution levels due to a larger number of pilgrims, horses, mules, cooking at langars or bhandaras, even a change in the pathway of water trickling to the cave and retreating of Amarnath glacier. Lidder valley area where the Amarnath cave is located has about 48 glaciers.

It may be recalled that in 2004, SASB had planned to seek assistance from Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) for the preservation of Ice Lingam in its full form for the entire period of Amarnath yatra, but later the plan was shelved after some people objected to it on religious grounds.

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