Home Global Village CJP threatens to take over Evacuee Trust board over Katas Raj

CJP threatens to take over Evacuee Trust board over Katas Raj

Evacuee Trust
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News Analysis |

A three member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan headed by the Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), heard the suo moto case of the drying up of Katas Raj Temples’ pond on Friday. The Supreme Court expressed annoyance over the absence of the chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddiqi Farooq. The SC had ordered the chairman of ETPB to be present during all hearings of the case.

The CJP had earlier summoned the details of the ETPB’s pending litigation in different courts and ordered the audit of the funds spent on the rehabilitation of the Katas Raj Temples. “Land belonging to the ETPB is being sold and bought,” the chief justice asked “What is happening?” “Why don’t we take over the ETPB?” he went on to ask the minority PML-N representative “Ramesh Kumar, will you be part of our campaign?”

The court stressed that only the state can claim the right to natural resources. The bench also suggested the government should draft legislation for the prevention of unnecessary wastage of natural resources.

The CJP also remarked that a person should be hired on the basis of their expertise but the current chairman of EPTB Siddiqi Farooq was hired on the basis of services to his political party. The Katas Raj Temples are several historical Hindu temples that connected with each other, located in the Chakwal district of Punjab. Katas Raj is one of the most sacred sites in Hindu religion.

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According to legends, the pond in Katas Raj was created from the tears of the Hindu god Shiva as he flew across the sky, shedding tears for his dead wife Sati. The pond occupies two kanals and 15 marlas, and it is 20 feet deep. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit the site during the Katas Raj Dham festival. In the recent years, the condition of the temples has been deteriorating and the adjacent pond to the temples has been drying up.

Environmentalists as well as those from Pakistan’s Hindu council have claimed this is due to the activity by local cement producers. The pond is being drained because of the increased number of bored wells by the factories, reducing the subsoil water level which has dried up the pond as well as created shortages for domestic users living in surrounding areas.

He also assured the minorities that Pakistan’s religion and constitution gives protection to the rights of the minorities. The pond has been filled up to 8 feet and the SC has ordered that it should stay at that level.

It has also been suggested that this activity has increased the risk of breast cancer and respiratory diseases for people living close to the area. On December 13, Bestway Cement was ordered by the SC to refill the pond and was banned from further expansion of cement factories around the area.

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During today’s proceedings, Dr Ramesh Kumar, PML-N’s member of National Assembly and head of Pakistan Hindu Council, explained that the chairman of Israel’s ETPB is a member of the minority community. He suggested a similar setup should be made in Pakistan. HE also pointed out that the current 16 employees of the temple are all Muslim, and that they should be from the minority community.

The CJP also remarked that a person should be hired on the basis of their expertise but the current chairman of EPTB Siddiqi Farooq was hired on the basis of services to his political party.

In response to Dr Kumar’s question, the SC asked the doctor why he had not attempted to form such legislation. ‘You are from the ruling part’, the SC remarked. The CJP protested that he cannot change the law; it is the job of the parliament. He also assured the minorities that Pakistan’s religion and constitution gives protection to the rights of the minorities.

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The pond has been filled up to 8 feet and the SC has ordered that it should stay at that level. The court stressed that only the state can claim the right to natural resources. The bench also suggested the government should draft legislation for the prevention of unnecessary wastage of natural resources.


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1 COMMENT

  1. its not just the pond at katas raj the whole wetlands complex called ‘uchalli’ is at risk. the total landscape has been senselessly and in some places intentionally altered to the extent of threatening the hydrology and subsequent loss of critically important biodiversity of the whole region. the courts of law must see to it that their orders are being implemented to the letter.

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