LAHORE - Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Muhammad Siddiqul Farooq has said that preparations are underway to export `Amrat Jal'-the holy water from a sacred well in Nankana Sahib-the birth place of Guru Nanak and print Guru Garanth Sahib-the central religious scripture in Sikhism- in Pakistan in order to save it from desecration during yatras.

In an interview with APP here on Sunday, he said his first initiative as ETPB chairman was to restore the ‘Be Be Nanki’ well in Nankana Sahib which had been out of order for the last 70 years, adding that the holy water 'Amrat Jal' of this well would be exported while the bottled holy water would be available to the Sikhs across the world.

Siddiqul Farooq said in order to save Guru Garanth Sahib from any desecration as Sikh yatrees carry the holy scripture during yatras and had to undergo different checks at the borders, the ETPB has decided to print the religious scripture in Pakistan as a service to the Sikh community, adding that assistance would be sought from Sharomani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) India and Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee in the printing process.     

Talking about his initiatives for the Sikh and Hindu yatrees in Pakistan, ETPB chairman said ownership had been given to the yatrees in all matters, adding that he himself receives the yatrees and personally oversees the arrangements of the yatras by the Hindu and Sikhs.   

To a question, he said the number of Hindu and Sikh yatrees was increasing every year and the ETPB had decided to register Travel promoters in order to facilitate yatrees and attract more tourism.

About his initiatives to develop infrastructure at the religious sites of the minorities, Siddiqul Farooq said residential complex was being built at the Katas Raj Temple, besides the installation of a water treatment plant and other facilities. He said these facilities would be ready before the arrival of Hindu yatrees on 24th November this year. He said renovation work had been started in all gurdwaras and mandirs in the country, besides a turbine had been installed at Gurdwara Punjah Sahib to generate electricity from water.

The ETPB chairman said on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak which falls on 14th November, the foundation stone of the International Guru Nanak University, Nankana Sahib would be laid, adding that an Advisory Committee had also been constituted for the establishment of Gandhara University, Taxila by the ETPB.

To a question, he said his aim was to build Pakistan's image as a 'Minority-Loving' country.

About transparency under his tenure, donation collection at the gurdwaras and Hindu temples in Pakistan had been organized, adding that the bank representative would remain present at the religious places and provide a receipt of the donation with bank stamp. "All donations from the devotees are received through a bank account", he added.

To a question, he said the ETPB has 600 security guards across the country, adding that 80 guards have been shortlisted to be equipped with weapons after security clearance and screening by the clinical psychologist. He said the security guards would receive training from police as well.

About accountability, he said he, as chairman ETPB, had inherited dilapidated buildings, a deficit budget and poor administration due to the bad policies of his predecessor Asif Hashmi. "I have got all buildings renovated, collected the largest amount under the head of Non-Returnable-Security (NRS) in auctions and got vacated ETPB lands worth 13 billion rupees from the land-grabbers," he responded. He further said 3 corruption references against former ETPB chairman Asif Hashmi have been completed while FIA is looking into other matters as well.

Siddiqul Farooq said under the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif the town planning of Nankana Sahib is being done on modern lines and a Lahore Development Authority (LDA) would prepare a plan to develop the historic city for the next 50 years as per the directions of the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif.

The ETPB chairman further said an ETPB property in the heart of Lahore would be developed into a multi-storeyed plaza, housing a commercial market for women and children and a floor dedicated to the minorities.