SC imposes fine on Punjab govt for failing to submit report
in Katas Raj case

BY Haseeb Bhatti

The Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed a fine on the Punjab Government for failing to submit its report in the Katas Raj suo motu case.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, imposed the Rs100,000 fine on the provincial government for failing to file a report explaining the scale of water utilisation through sub-soil wells by nearby cement factories. The bench had issued the instructions to the provincial government on December 13 last year.

"The pond and the temple at Katas Raj need to be restored," the chief justice remarked during today's hearing. The court had taken up the case based on media reports that the Katas Raj temple complex pond was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of sub-soil wells, severely reducing the water table in the general area.

"Since the water in the pond is decreasing due to the cement factories utilising it, the factories should make other arrangements," the chief justice stressed on Tuesday. "We want to resolve these problems."

The chief justice said that the cement factories could continue to use the water in the pond for a certain amount of time but should make alternative arrangements as the SC would order the tube wells ─ used to deliver the water to the factories ─ to be closed after that period.

He ordered the factories to give the court a timeline within which they can make the arrangements.

The chief justice also questioned why Siddiqui Farooq continued to hold the position of Evacuee Trust Property Board's (ETPB) chairman when his term had ended.

"How long will he remain in the office based on the prime minister's favour?" the chief justice asked. "Appointments should not be made based on personal preferences and political affiliations."

The court issued a notice to Farooq.

During the hearing, the court observed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, while an important project for Pakistan, is afflicted with many conflicts.

The chief justice said that the court desires all these conflicts should be resolved, adding that he has summoned all chief justices in this regard.

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