Pakistan’s Supreme Court Tuesday barred cement factories in the vicinity of the historic Katas Raj temple complex in Chakwal district of Punjab province from using potable water, as it rebuked the private cement factories for putting profits before the environment, a media report said.
The court in November last year took suo motu notice of the issue of drying up of the sacred pond in the Katas Raj temple complex, considered by the followers of Hindu religion a sacred place. The pond is said to have depleted due to several cement factories nearby that have sucked out the underground water.
The court had wrapped up its hearing in May, after assurance from cement factories to arrange alternative sources of water and pay for water use.
However, irked by the non-implementation of its orders, a bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar took up hearing on the case once again and reprimanded the cement factories for wasteful use of potable water, Geo TV reported.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Nisar observed that cement factories were consuming millions of rupees’ worth of water without paying their dues.
The governments have been complicit in this wastage, he said, questioning why the Punjab government had not yet imposed taxes on cement factories.
“We will impose the taxes ourselves,” the chief justice said.
The court then barred the cement factories from using potable water, and adjourned hearing of the case till August 1.
Before concluding the case on May 8, the apex court had ordered the factories to submit Rs 2 billion as bank security, and had also warned of shutting down the factories for their gross negligence.
The factories had assured the chief justice that they would arrange alternative sources of water in six months. They had also agreed to build a small dam in the area, the outflow of which will be maintained in a way that the pond at Katas Raj is not adversely affected.
Chief Justice Nisar had accepted the proposals and said that the factories should not cause pollution in the area and also ensure that the pond in Katas Raj temple is filled through natural means.
The Katas Raj temple is one of the holiest sites in Hindu mythology.
The name ‘Katas’ is derived from Kataksha, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘tearful eyes’. According to legend, the pond was formed after Lord Shiva wept upon the death of his wife Satti
Around this pond, temples were built dedicated to the Hindu dieties Shiva, Rama and Hanuman.
In January, the apex court had sacked the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board which manages the Katas Raj temple and other shrines of Hindus and Sikhs who had migrated to India following the partition.