Pakistan SC orders cement factory to refill historic Katas Raj temple’s pond within a week

Pakistan Supreme Court yesterday ordered a cement plant to fill up the historic Katas Raj temple’s pond within a week after reports emerged that it is drying out due to water consumption by nearby cement factories, according to a media report. A three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, is hearing a suo motu case based on media reports that the Katas Raj pond in Punjab province is drying out due to water consumption by nearby cement factories, Dawn News reported. The factories are reportedly draining the pond through a number of bored wells which have reduced the subsoil water level the created shortages for domestic users as well, it said. Bestway Cement factory is one of the four major cement production units located in the area. In the hearing of the case, the bench expressed anger over the continued absence of Bestway Cement’s counsel. The bench told the Punjab government to provide details of the conditions under which the authorities had allowed the construction of cement factories in the area.

The court also sought reports on the environmental pollution factories cause in the area. The prosecution claims that the cement factories in the Katas Raj temple area have worsened the risks of breast cancer and respiratory diseases among people living nearby due to their activities. “We will not allow cement factories to operate at the cost of people’s health,” the chief justice said. The apex court had also expressed dismay over the absence of representations of Hindu deities in the historic Sri Ram and Hanuman temples in the complex and sought an explanation from the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in this regard a day earlier. The ETPB said the temples were locked up to prevent desecration that might be caused by wild jackals and bats in the area.

The court was perturbed to learn that Hindu pilgrims who visited the holy site had to bring their own idols to perform their rituals, the report said. The chairman also claimed that no religious services are held in Shri Ram and Hanuman temples since they are archaeological sites. The Shiv Ling was present in all temples where people come to worship, he said. The Katas Raj temple is one of the Hindu community’s most well-known places of worship. The name ‘Katas’ is derived from Kataksha, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘tearful eyes’. According to legend, the sacred pond was formed after lord Shiva wept upon the death of his wife Satti.