The Supreme Court on Monday stayed an order of the National Green Tribunal, which directed the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to open a new path to the temple from November 24.

The board told a bench of Justice MB Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta that it will not be possible to open the new path to the shrine in Jammu from November 24, but that pedestrians and battery-operated cars can use the two other paths that lead to the temple. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the board, said the construction of the third path was under way and will be ready by February.

Last week, the tribunal had asked the shrine board to cap the number of visitors to the temple to 50,000 a day. It had said no horses or mules should be allowed on the new route.

The panel was acting on a plea that said pilgrims and the horses, mules and ponies used to ferry them generate untreated waste, which is directly disposed in the Banganga river. The court then asked authorities to fine pilgrims Rs 2,000 for littering roads and the bus stop at the nearby Katra town.