Katas Raj Woes

The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered Bestway Cement Factory to refill the pond of the Katas Raj Temples, which has run dry because of absence of water due to the increasing consumption of the cement factory. The story of Katas Raj Temples losing out water due to the cement factories around it has been making rounds on electronic and social media for over a year now. The Punjab government failed to take notice of the problem for over a year until on November 2 the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar took suo moto notice of the issue and demanded answers for the lack of water in the temples and the absence of the idols of Hindu deities in the temples.

The cement factories around the temples have drained the water because they have bored a number of wells to use for the factory. This has caused a panic in the people of the area and the visitors as well, who especially come to visit the temples. At the same time, the Evacuee Trust Board (ETB) has stated the fear of desecration of idols for their absence but the site is also one of the most important Hindu worship places and several pilgrims cross the border every year to especially visit the temples. However, if the temples are empty (with not water and idols); the place not only loses its importance but Pakistan also loses out on generating revenue from the tourists which come into the country.

CJP Mian Saqib Nisar, a part of the three member bench heading the case has urged the Punjab government to clarify why the cement factories were allowed to operate in the area and why it was considered a non-threat to run a factory in the middle of an inhabited town. While the action of the SC must be commended, the decision is too little too late. Refilling of one pond is not going to solve the problems of the temples. This is not a permanent solution because the water will dry out eventually with the growing consumption of the factory. This seems more like a makeshift solution rather than a permanent one. Allowing factories to operate close to communities is never a viable option and those responsible for allowing such a setup must be held accountable.

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