The Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Mian Saqib Nisar criticised the government of Punjab province for its failure to safeguard the sacred pond of the historic Katas Raj temple complex. The temple is one of the most revered places of worship for Hindus in the country.
The sacred pond is receding as the underground aquifer feeding it is under stress due to industrial activity. “The pond should be filled in a week even if water has to be carried in water-skins to fill it,” Justice Nisar ordered.
Asserting that the court would go to any length to protect the rights of Hindus in Pakistan, the chief justice ordered setting up of a high-level committee to probe the matter.
The issue was taken up by Justice Nisar on the basis of media reports that the Katas Raj pond was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of borewells, severely reducing the sub-soil water level.
“This temple is not just a place of cultural significance for the Hindu community, but also a part of our national heritage,” Justice Nisar observed and ordered that problem must be solved.
Punjab’s Additional Advocate General informed the court that a cement factory was using more water than the entire population of the city of Chakwal.
The court ordered the advocate general Punjab to set up a high-level committee to probe the matter and decided to issue a notice to the cement factory.
Besides the cement factories, the area is known for a number of coal mines. Since this involves massive digging of earth for coal extraction, the site becomes exposed to torrents of underground water.
“If we need to close down 10 tube-wells or halt the water consumption of the factories, we will do it,” Nisar said.He also expressed displeasure at Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf for arriving late for the crucial hearing.
The case was adjourned till next Thursday. The name ‘Katas’ is derived from Kataksha, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘tearful eyes’.
According to a legend, the pond was formed after lord Shiva wept upon the death of his wife Satti. BJP leader L K Advani also visited Katas Rajduring his trip to Pakistan in 2005 and inaugurated conservation work being carried out by the Pakistan government.
With PTI inputs