De-silting of fabled pond at Katas Raj begins

The pond at Katas Raj being de-silted. — Dawn
The pond at Katas Raj being de-silted. — Dawn

CHAKWAL: Having moved by the drying condition of the revered pond of Katas Raj, the Punjab government in collaboration with a cement factory has launched a de-silting drive to restore the pond to its original condition.

“We have uncovered three natural springs on the premises of the pond which were silted up causing reduction of water in the pond,” Mohammad Siddiqul Farooq, the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), told Dawn on Saturday. He added that the de-silting drive would continue for eight to 10 days.

“Though water has started oozing out of the natural springs and the condition of the pond is improving, the pond could be restored fully to its original condition only when rains pour in and the aquifer is improved,” he maintained.

The fabled pond almost dried up a week ago due to the alarming decrease in the subsoil water table which officials and residents said occurred due to the massive use of water by cement plants operating in the area.

The prehistoric pond, which was used to be described as “fathomless”, dried up second time in its history. The last time it dried up was in April 2012. It is considered the most sacred pond by Hindus as according to their mythology it was created by the tears of Lord Shiva who wept uncontrollably over the demise of his beloved wife Satti.

Deputy Commissioner Chakwal Dr Umar Jehangir chaired a meeting and directed the concerned officers of the district administration and officials of the cement plant to restore the pond to its original condition.

“We have got shut some water-bores being operated by a cement factory. The management of the cement plant is cooperating with us,” Assistant Commissioner Choa Saidan Shah Ashar Iqbal told Dawn.

“Four feet de-silting has been done so far,” said Siddiqul Farooq. Describing three main factors responsible for the dryness of the pond, he declared the cement factories as the major factor for decreasing sub-soil water table in the area.

“Besides the massive use of water by cement plants, the domestic use of water through water-bores and less rains are the other two factors,” he added.

He said the government would consult experts to find out a permanent solution to the problem.

“We would look into whether a dam or any other alternative source could be established in the area or not.” He said the government would make efforts to restore the pond to its original condition.

“The pond and the Katas Raj temples are our assets and the site is revered by Hindus. We would try our best to maintain the site in every best possible way,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2017

Courtesy DAWN