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Holy pond at Katas Raj drying up

Published Apr 21, 2012 10:07pm

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The sacred pond of Katas Raj. --Photo by Dawn

CHAKWAL, April 21: At a time when the Hindu community in the country is crying over ‘conversion and forced-marriages’, they have been inflicted by another misery: the sacred pond at Katas Raj here is drying up because its water is being supplied to the nearby towns, Dawn has learnt.

A cement factory near Katas Temples has installed tubewells in the area which have reduced the water level in the pond.

The water from the pond is being supplied to Choa Syedan Shah and Waula village as the Punjab government could not provide any alternative facility to the residents of the area.

The water supply to Choa Syedan Shah was sanctioned before partition on the condition that the water in the pond would be maintained to a certain level. Till 2007, there was no shortage of water in the pond. As Chakwal saw an industrial development recently, three cement factories were developed in tehsil Choa Syedan Shah.

The cement factory near Katas Temples Complex is posing a threat to the pond. Sources told Dawn that the administration of the factory had pledged that it would arrange water for the factory from the Jhelum River but later it installed many tubewells near the temples. The massive use of water in the factory has not only harmed the pond but also the nearby villages are also facing severe water shortage. The residents of Waula, a village situated at the back of the factory, were left with no other option but to get water from the pond.  Currently, two water pumps are installed at both sides of the pond: one for Choa Syedan Shah and the other for Waula village.

“The water in our village has disappeared due to the cement factory,” says Fazal Elahi, an attendant of the water pumps and a resident of Waula village. He said a water supply scheme had been approved by the Punjab government for the village but work on it could not be started yet. The villagers had protested many times against the unwarranted water use by the factory but to no avail.

When contacted, the deputy administration officer of the cement factory said the tubewells had nothing to do with the shortage of water in the pond.

On the other hand, work on the water supply scheme approved for Choa Syedan Shah is still to be initiated as the departments concerned are doing nothing except blaming one another for the delay.

According to the Hindu mythology, the holy pond came into existence as Lord Shiva wept over the demise of his beloved wife Sati.

Archaeological department of Punjab has also closed its eyes to the pond while the district administration is of the view that it has nothing to do with the affairs of the temple as it is the responsibility of the archaeology department and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). “We have nothing to do with the affairs of Katas Raj Temples and the pond,” said Assistant Commissioner of Choa Syedan Shah Abdul Majid. He said the district administration had provided utmost support to the Hindu Yatrees when they visited the temples.

When contacted, Director General Punjab Archaeology Department Haroon Ahmad Khan also came up with the same version. “Archaeology department has nothing to do with the pond,” he said. Tehsil Municipal Officer (TMO) Raja Ahmad Farooq said they did not have any alternative but to get water from the pond for Choa Syedan Shah and Waula village.

“The Public Health Department has got funds to provide water supply but it has done nothing,” he stated.

Subdivisional officer of the Public Health Department Ramzan Ahmad said efforts were underway to arrange water supply to Choa Syedan Shah. “Work on the water supply scheme is going on and it will be completed very soon,” he claimed.

Unfortunately, not only the sacred pond has become a victim of officials’ apathy but the ancient temples are also crumbling.

Talking to Dawn on phone from Karachi, President of Pakistan Hindu Council Dr Ramesh Kumar expressed concern over the plight of Katas Temples Complex. “The Punjab government should take immediate steps to preserve Katas Temples and the pond,” he added. He said the chairman of ETPB and attendants of all the temples should be from the Hindu community, as they could properly protect their religious sites.

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Comments (22) Closed



Lala Ji Lahoria Apr 23, 2012 03:47pm
Disrespecting the temple and its existence will bring heavy clamities for the area and godly curses to the disrespectors and the partial officials.... MARK my word for it! It is bound to start beginning with September 2012 if not earlier!
JPunhal Apr 23, 2012 10:45am
If these ponds were sacred for Sikhs Punjab government would have done every thing to protect and preserve them, unfortunately majority of Hindus are not punjabis so why should the punjabis of Pakistan should care.
Pakistani Apr 23, 2012 04:04pm
Typical Pakistani Thinking - Think of Your Own Pockets and Forget About Others. I am disgusted with this thinking as at the moment whole Nation is following this. Leadership is the same therefore we should never blame anything on the leadership because we are all in the same boat. Shame on Us.
azmul90 Apr 23, 2012 03:53pm
Still we boast that Pakistan was made for people of every religion! We are not true Muslims. Not at all.
Omar Haroon Apr 23, 2012 10:30am
Even as a "human being" I fully agree with the above statement.
lucky Apr 23, 2012 10:00am
mate, i wish all muslims have thoughts like you.
Anuj Apr 23, 2012 02:40pm
apathy starts with small derelictions based on what we don't hold dear. It costs us heavily in the end. if one remembers, the poem where the poet said they first came for the communists, then for the jews etc etc but he didn't do a thing as he was none of the above...and then when they came for him, it was too late as there was no one left to help him. "They" is a mataphor for the pillage, plunder and hostility we show our environment. While Muslims the world over vote with their pockets to keep the Zam Zam stream pristine, they don't realise it's their children's legacy they steal from by letting Katas Raj and other such ponds to dry up "because we couldn't be bothered by other minority issues" . Like a radical thought of yesterday later explodes into a deadly bomb today based on extreme views about other "sects", so will this attitude blow up in all our faces. It is not a warning, just an observation of what has been and will be based on the past.
pakistani Apr 23, 2012 09:17am
i feel the only way to save such pond or temple to let it more open for Hindus just like for Sikhs visit Panja Sahib or Nankana Sahib. they are regular visitor. As muslim ppl r not visitor then local consider it useless or not something important other then some historic place. peace out
Baba Sidni Apr 23, 2012 08:26am
As a Muslim I would not like anything bad to happen to the pond of Zam Zam. I would like to extend the same courtesy to those who consider this pond as holy. This is what my religion teaches me, and I have been brought up by these values. Drought or not, the business should be provided some other water or thrown to Arabian sea to get water.
bindiya narain Apr 23, 2012 10:35am
we shd l.earn to be tolerant and sensitive to all communities.evolve as good humans
aamir ali Apr 23, 2012 12:08pm
No dear its not matter of being Punjabi ! The Archaeology Department had an agreement for its renovation that is what I remember when Oria Maqbool Jan visited India and they had a commitment with L.K.Advani for its restoration. Katas Raj is our Heritage which has to be preserved no matter who owns it or not.
Naresh Sharma Apr 23, 2012 01:01pm
Dear Friends, Plz preserve Hindu sites bcoz its your culture and history too, Pakistans history not started since mugals invaded india as it is more than 5000 years old... but i am realy disappointed by seeing Kats Raj site is in pathetic situtation. Friend from India
shery Apr 23, 2012 01:32pm
This built heritage site represents the indigenous architectural genius and needs to be preserved. But is it the sinking of ground water level, withdrawal of water from the pond to the adjacent town or the depletion of aqufire? There is need for a careful assessment study first.
N. C. Kar Apr 23, 2012 02:36pm
For the Pakistan point of view, once peace is restored these religious places could be potential tourist destination for indians. on other points i completely agree with Naresh.
Samad Chaudhry Apr 23, 2012 04:42pm
Quaid's promise must be adhered to for the protection of minorities It is our moral duty to look after Hindu community Recently three converted girls were given to their husbands and that is not wrong but they should have be allowed to meet their parents. Unfortunately we have some narrow minded or DON'T CARE officials and the government if any exist in Pakistan these days must take swift action.l was 16 at the time of independance and we had high hopes for the new country but it is going from bad to worst and the present so called rulers with 61ministers are not for masses !!!! Sad! Sad!! Sad!!! WE must give our Hindu brothers the needed water. Samad Chaudhry Age nearly 81 London
Hasan Apr 23, 2012 04:45pm
I hope there is more understanding and respect is shown to others. If muslims are doing this (as it is likely), they should remember that one of the important tenants of islam is that "there is no compulsion in religion". Those who are doing "conversion and forced marriages" are not only horrible human beings but also bad muslims!
Ram Subramanium Apr 23, 2012 07:29pm
Indian Government should work with Pakistan government and provide funds for its maintenance. Please pakistanis, this is your history too. You should be proud of it.
Roger Apr 23, 2012 10:28pm
If nothing else, Pakistan could harness tourism from millions of Hindus who would love to travel to Pakistan, only if the attitude of Pakistani people could change. Pakistan could become a tourist Macca.
Roger Apr 24, 2012 12:25am
Pakistan has an opportunity to harness the tourism opportunity from people around the world, once peoples' perception is changed. The country has the natural beauty and a rich heritage, which tourist swould love to experience.
Agnostic Apr 24, 2012 02:33am
I am waiting.
Junior Apr 24, 2012 08:20am
I am not a Muslim, Christian or devoted to any other religion but, I think that... If you let dry the pond, is like you are letting your own background to dry up and lose touch with your very recent past. Be proud of yourselves, both nations (Pak/Indu) are full of good people, dont let a few take away or lose your heritage as it is a common one.
faisal Apr 23, 2012 03:04pm
I am from the village of Dumial which is about 15 mile from Katas and my heart goes out to the people of Katas,and Hindus worldwide Faisal from New York.