SC takes notice of dried up Katas Raj pond

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of reports that the pond in the Katas Raj temple complex is drying out and ordered the concerned departments to submit a comprehensive report for the reasons behind the phenomenon within three days.

Suo motu notice was taken by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who subsequently called for reports from the director general of the Federal Department of Archaeology and Museums, the secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Lahore, the director general of the Punjab Directorate of Archaeology and the Chakwal Deputy Commissioner.

The Katas Raj temple complex is located near Kallar Kahar, approximately 100 kilometres by road from another important Hindu site, the Tilla Jogian complex.

Depts asked to submit comprehensive report on phenomenon within three days

Katas Raj is located near the interchange for Kallar Kahar, off the M2 Motorway that connects Islamabad and Lahore.

The complex is located alongside a road connecting Kallar Kahar to Choa Saidan Shah, near the Dulmial village.

According Hindu mythology, the pond was formed from the tears of Shiva, who went uncontrollably over the loss of his wife Sati.

But the pond, which continues to be one of the holiest Hindu sites in the region, is drying out.

Reports suggested that the pond was drying out due to water consumption by nearby cement factories that are sucking water through more than a hundred drill bores, severely reducing the subsoil water level.

In addition to the factories, the reports suggested that owing to an absence of adequate water supply to the local areas of Katas Waulah and the city of Choa Saidan Shah, almost every home is acquiring water through boring.

The problem has become acute with the plantation of eucalyptus trees in the region.

In one of the reports, the pond, which also dried up last May, has remained dry despite monsoon rainfall and currently contains just three or four feet of water.

The steps into the pond, which used to be submerged under water, are now visible.

Although the pond has been de-silted by two to three feet by the ETPB with the help of the district administration and a cement plant, this has had little effect on the pond’s water level due to the fall in the area’s water table.

The water from the Katas Raj pond was once used to irrigate loquat gardens in Choa Saidan Shah, while drinking water from the pond was supplied to the Choa Saidan Shah town and the Waulah and Katas villages, a report regretted, but the very plants in Katas Raj now are irrigated using a water bore.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2017

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