On the way to Katas Raj temples, the human eye catches sight of four cement factories. Operating under the classic capitalist doctrine of profit maximization, the plants, and their owners do not give any consideration to the hazardous effects of human activities on the surrounding, human lives, and cultural artifacts. One of such cultural artifacts that have been damaged beyond repair is the site of Katas Raj temples. The lake, around which these sanctuaries are built, is almost dried as underground water table has gone further down because of excessive usage of water by cement factories.

In hearing the suo moto case, the three-judge Supreme Court bench has issued directions to the federal and provincial government of Punjab to take necessary steps to save the Katas Raj pond. It is satisfactory that the Supreme Court is interested in the case for many reasons including preserving the worship places of people of all other faiths but also considering it duty under Islam to protect all such sites.

However, the action on the part of the apex court also reveals a sad reality that laws relating to environmental protection have weak implementation resulting in zero effect. The committee made under the Bench’s order consists of a local environmentalist too that will recommend measures required to save the pond. The remarks issued by the Chief Justice that industrial units should be established in places where lives of ordinary people are not affected and environmental degradation minimal speak volumes of government’s negligence.

While the need of the hour is to take protective measures to save the temples’ lake, the state should not lose the sight of the broader picture. The issue of Katas Lake should make the state realise how ineffective environmental laws are in Pakistan. It is important is to make sure that environmental laws and regulation are implemented with full force.