KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has appointed its nazir commissioner to inspect the 150-year-old temple in Clifton and ascertain if any damage is being caused to it due to the construction work on a nearby flyover and two underpasses.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan on Thursday ordered the court nazir to inspect the site and submit its report within the next 15 days.

The bench was seized with the hearing of a constitutional petition against the huge traffic project being carried out by the Bahria Town.

The petition was filed by the All-Hindu Rights Organisation through its General Secretary Manohar Lal Jesrani who impleaded the chief secretary, secretaries of culture and housing and town planning departments, Karachi Municipal Corporation, KMC municipal director, Sindh Building Control Authority, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, federal environment secretary and the Bahria Town as respondents.

The counsel for the petitioner, Ghulam Mustafa Lakhani, told the judges that the Sri Ratneshwar Mahadeve Mandar, better known as Shiv Mandar, was built 150 years ago inside a cave on a hill overlooking the seafront. He said that the temple was a national heritage and it was in danger due to the construction and excavation work on the huge traffic project involving the flyover and two underpasses.

The counsel added that the entire structure of the temple was at risk as the real estate firm was digging up ditches near it. He said the temple could not withstand the earth vibrations which were causing damage to its walls and architecture.

He alleged that the entire work was being carried out illegally without obtaining a prior mandatory environmental impact assessment from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency.

Besides, he said, no consent had been obtained from the provincial culture department regarding the temple’s heritage status.

Advocate Lakhani said that the SHC had earlier ordered in an identical petition that the respondents would ensure that no damage was caused to the temple.

However, he alleged, the respondents did not comply with the court direction.

He requested the court to appoint a commissioner to inspect the site to find out facts related to the issue.

The court appointed the commissioner on the petitioner’s request and fixed Rs25,000 fee for the court official that would be paid by the petitioner.

The bench also ordered its office to club together all petitions regarding the temple and fix them for hearing on a date after the summer vacation of the court.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2014

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