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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Pak cement cos agree to find alternative to water from Katas Raj temple

The factories made a commitment to build a small dam in the area, the outflow of which will be maintained in a way that the pond at Katas Raj is not adversely affected.

world Updated: May 08, 2018 23:13 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Katas Raj temple
Katas Raj temple(Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)
         

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday wrapped up the hearing of a suo moto case regarding a drastic fall in the level of the sacred pond at Katas Raj temple after cement factories located near the shrine agreed to find an alternative water source and to pay for water they use until then.

In November 2017, the Supreme Court had taken notice of media reports that said the pond at the Katas Raj temple complex was drying up because the cement factories were drawing a large amount of water through a number of bore wells.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, had been hearing the case. During earlier proceedings, the court had ordered the federal and Punjab governments to form a special committee of experts to save the fabled prehistoric Hindu temple.

On Tuesday, Bestway Cement and DG Khan Cement proposed they would submit Rs 2 billion as a bank guarantee until they are able to find an alternative source of water.

They also made a commitment to build a small dam in the area, the outflow of which will be maintained in a way that the pond at Katas Raj is not adversely affected. They also proposed to pay the government of Punjab province for the water they use until then.

The Chief Justice said the pond should be filled through natural means while Justice Ijazul Ahsan noted that the water level in the area would rise once water pumps at the factories are shut down.

Additional advocate general Asma Hamid informed the court that until alternative arrangements for water are made, the Punjab government will charge the factories for water usage, the tariff for which is yet to be decided.

The factories currently use water from a nearby river and underground sources.

According to Hindu mythology, the sacred pond at Katas Raj was formed by a tear that fell from the eyes of Lord Shiva after the death of his wife Sati. It is believed the Pandavas spent several years at Katas Raj during their 14 years in exile.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani inaugurated renovation works at the temple complex — believed to be more than 2,300 years old and linked to the epic Mahabharat — during a visit to Pakistan in June 2005. Despite the allocation of several crores of Pakistani rupees by successive governments, the work was never completed.