News Analysis |
The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that Bestway Cement and DG Khan Cement will find an alternate source of water. The two companies also deposited Rs2 billion as a security deposit and agreed to pay for the water they use from now on. The decision comes after a drawn-out probe into the Katas Raj temple drying up. Analysts have commented that while this decision will have a positive outcome, the factories seem to have escaped heavier penalties.
However, they have been given six months to find an alternate to Katas Raj pond that has nearly dried up due to heavy consumption by these companies. The market was expecting a penalty for the water these companies have already consumed last year, said an analyst. According to UBL Funds’ research analyst Anjali Rawlani, the companies must establish their alternate source of water in a six-month period.
The installation of the pipeline is expected to cost around Rs2 to 2.5 billion while establishing a reservoir similar to Katas Raj pond size would cost around Rs100-150 million. The pond occupies an area of around 15,000 square feet with a maximum depth of 20 feet, a local publication reported. Until the new target of establishing a reservoir is achieved, the companies would be paying Punjab government for the water they use.
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 chief justice had earlier announced that a deadline will be given to the cement factories and after that, they’ll have to make an alternate arrangement for their water requirement. The bench had also used a stern tone against the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) chairman Siddiqul Farooq for holding the position longer than his tenure. Later on, the Supreme Court bench fired Siddiqul Farooq from ETPB chair, GVS earlier reported.
Locals complained about the rise in diseases due to excessive air pollution, losing grazing areas for cattle, contamination of ponds, developing cracks in roofs and walls of houses due to blasting for extraction of limestone and decrease in crop yield.
The Katas Raj Temples are several Hindu temples connected with each other, located in the Chakwal district of Punjab. Katas Raj is one of the most sacred sites in the Hindu religion. 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.
Shiva’s Tears drying up
The dismal state of Katas Raj shows that there is a need to pay attention to the growing concerns of the Hindu community in Pakistan. It also represents the careless attitude of the government for the preservation of tourist sites and our cultural heritage. JCP stressed the need of protecting the temple which is “not just a place of cultural significance for the Hindu community, but also a part of our national heritage”.
Analysts have commented that while this decision will have a positive outcome, the factories seem to have escaped heavier penalties.
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 temple has been drying up. The Supreme Court took a Suo Moto notice of the case after media reports.
Activists believe that the care we show to the holy sites of minorities reflects greatly on our national harmony and tolerance. A similar scenario is taking place across the borders in India, where the white marble of Taj Mahal is turning yellow due to the pollution being discharged by factories nearby. Although the Indian courts have taken notice of Taj Mahal’s decay, the Hindutva of the country has deemed the historical site a “Non-Indian monument”. BJP lawmaker Sangeet Som stated that the Taj Mahal was built by “traitors”.
Whereas the crisis Katas Raj underwent has been swiftly resolved by the Supreme Court without anyone bringing in the dispute of religion. The court order serves as a relief for the majestic sacred site, Katas Raj. An example has been established that such sites are indeed a part of our cultural heritage, as stated by CJP, and should be preserved without involving unnecessary religious controversies.