SC summons record of factories around Katas Raj temples

ISLAMABAD – The apex court on Tuesday summoned record of private factories set up around Katas Raj temples from the Lahore High Court.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar heard suo motu of drying out of the pond of the Katasraj Temple Complex and ordered authorities concerned to submit a report.

The bench sought report from the Evacuee Trust chairman for not opening Hanuman Temple.

The chief justice directed the lower courts not to pass any order regarding Katas Raj temples as it was pending before the top court.

Justice Nisar expressed grave concern over the bad condition of Katas Raj temples, saying the authorities were not taking care of the temples.

According to a report, submitted before the apex court, the pre-historic fabled pond is said to be drying out because of a huge amount of water consumption in the nearby cement factories.

Reportedly, the factories are sucking water through more than 100 drill bores, which have severely reduced the subsoil water level.

The court said Hindus from Pakistan and India come to these temples to perform religious rites, but when there are no statues of their gods in the temples then what message the Hindus from India will take about Pakistan.

The chief justice noted that cement factories nearby were drawing large amount of water through a number of sub-soil wells, severely reducing the water table in the general area.

Katas Raj temples lie in the mineral-rich Salt Range, which has four cement plants. One of these is just two kilometres from the historic site. Since there is no major source of water in the vicinity, the factories rely on sub-soil water to meet their needs.

The apex court in the last hearing had directed the Punjab government to fill the pond.

Appearing before the court, the Punjab official informed that there were cement factories including Bestway Cement, Gharibwal and DG Khan Cement factories, in the vicinity.

The chief justice said they could summon Mian Mansha, the owner of cement factory.

The lawyer of the Evacuee Trust told that ex-chairman Evacuee Trust Board Asif Hashmi was responsible for the bad condition of Katas Raj, adding he was appointed during the regime of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party government.

The chief justice inquired why the authorities had not arrested Hashmi. The counsel replied that he was abroad.

The chief justice said they could summon secretaries Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs.

The case was adjourned till today.


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