Katas Raj temple case: SC seeks report on water rate for cement factories

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Friday sought a report from the local government regarding rate for sale of water to cement factories and the related payments in Katas Raj temple case.

In the hearing of suo motu case, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) expressed resentment over failure to decide the rate on which water will be bought by the cement factories established nearby.

He summoned a report in this regard from the Secretary of Punjab on September 18.

CJP also directed to review the issue of water scarcity due to cement factories in Fatehjang area.

The Chief Justice inquired whether water’s rate had been determined as yet while saying that “the cement factories had to arrange for an alternative water source in the surroundings of Katas Raj temple. Has the rate been determined for the sale of water yet or is it still not decided?”

The secretary told that the rate has been fixed till the range of Dera Ghazi Khan and the Best Way factory.

“Why has the rate not been decided for the rest of the factories?” CJP asked, suggesting that the official must work till midnight if the need be but the completion of task at hand is to be taken care of soonest possible.

Water worth billions of rupees was used by cement factories around the historic Katas Raj temple without any payment, but its availability will not be free of cost anymore according to the Chief Justice.

Furthermore he says that the tasks may not be successfully completed if the officials stay in their respective offices. “Go outside and find out about the situation of cement factories operating in Punjab. Inquire and check whether the price of water is being paid or not,” the CJP directed.

The hearing of the case was adjourned till September 18.

Cement factories should pay up to get water from the river, the CJP said while ordering the factories to give recommendations as to how much they are willing to pay for the water they have already used and what the rate for future usage of water should be.

Earlier, this year the SC wrapped up the Katas Raj case after the cement factories put forward a proposal that they would find an alternative water source and pay for the water they use until then.

Similarly towards the end of last year, the top court had taken notice of reports that the pond in the Katas Raj temple complex was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of sub-soil wells, severely reducing the water table in the general area.

The Katas Raj temple in Chakwal is one of the holiest sites in Hindu mythology. Legend has it that, after the death of his wife Sati, Lord Shiva cried so inconsolably that his tears formed a pond that came to be known as the Katas Raj pond. Around this pond, temples were built dedicated to the Hindu dieties Shiva, Ram and Hanuman.

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