Katas Raj temple pond in Pakistan drying up

Katas Raj temple pond in Pakistan drying up

The sacred pond in the historic Katas Raj temple complex revered by Hindus in Pakistan is receding as the underground source feeding it is under stress due to industrial activity.

The pond and temple complex is located in the Chakwal district of Punjab province.

The Punjab government, in a report to the Supreme Court over a suo motu notice on the drying up of the pond, has attributed the depletion of water to a number of factors, the Dawn reported.

The issue was taken up by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on the basis of media reports that the Katas Raj pond was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of borewells, severely reducing the sub-soil water level.

In addition, almost every house in the surrounding areas of Katas Waulah and Choa Saidan Shah draws water through boring due to the absence of a proper supply network.

The unchecked plantation of eucalyptus saplings in the region has also compounded the problem.

The case is expected to be heard by a three-judge Supreme Court bench on Thursday.

Nisar had called for reports highlighting reasons behind the drying out of the 20-foot-deep pond from archaeology and administration officials.

The name of the complex is a derivative of 'Kataksha', a Sanskrit word that translates as 'tearful eyes'. According to legend, the pond was formed after Lord Shiva wept uncontrollably upon the death of his wife Sati.

The Chakwal deputy commissioner told the apex court in a report that the Punjab Environment Protection Agency (EPA) had initiated legal proceedings against a cement factory for violating environmental laws.

It said the Katas Raj temple lies in the mineral-rich Salt Range, which has four cement plants. One of these is just two kilometres from the historic site.

Since there is no major source of water in the vicinity, the factories rely on sub-soil water to meet their needs and use tube-wells.

The report also highlights that the administration, taking a serious view of environmental hazards caused by industrial activity, ordered the closure of three of the 14 tube-wells in order to reduce stress.

Besides the cement factories, the area is known for a number of coal mines. Since this involves massive digging of earth for coal extraction, the site becomes exposed to torrents of underground water.

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