ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday summoned Director General Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) regarding drying of Katas Raj Temple’s pond.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial conducted hearing of the suo moto notice on Katas Raja Temple’s pond and issued aforementioned directions.

During the hearing, Chairman Pakistan Hindu Council Ramesh Kumar informed that statues in Ram Temple and Hanuman Temple at Katas Raj are missing. Justice Bandial asked that is not Katas Raj Temple in one room where the Hindus worship. He said that the court has not declared Katas Raj as museum.

Ramesh Kumar, who is also MNA of the ruling party – PTI, told that there are 1221 temples, 589 gurdwaras, and 15849 acres land of Hindu community in Pakistan which are under the control of Evacuee Trust. He said that out of the total only 31 Hindu temples and gurdwaras are functioning. He said that there is no permanent pujari (a Hindu temple priest) at Katas Raj Temple and he come from Sukkar whenever there is a Hindu religious event or festival.

At this, Justice Bandial inquired that whether the chairman Evacuee Trust is present in the court. The court was informed that the chairman has not come as he is tested Coronavirus positive.

The bench was further apprised that the DG EPA, Chakwal, and the chairman ETPB had submitted reports about the Katas Raj pond.

Justice Bandial observed that according to the DG EPA report, the Katas Raj fountain has not dried up completely and it could be restored.

The petitioner said that it was the order of the Supreme Court that the cement factories would not use underground water. However, according to the report, still 14 per cent water used by the factories comes from underground. Justice Bandial observed that the EPA and the local departments had issued NOCs to the cement factories.

The bench directed the petitioner to submit written statements, while chairman ETPB was ordered to file a report regarding the minorities religious festivals. Later, the court deferred the hearing for one month by summoning DG EPA and the chairman ETPB on the next date.