Friday January 27, 2023

CJ orders refilling Katas Raj temple pond

By Our Correspondent
November 17, 2018

LAHORE: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar Friday ordered for refilling Katas Raj pond in Chakwal again. At the Supreme Court Lahore registry, he was hearing a case pertaining to the depleted pond – a revered site for the Hindu community, which is said to have depleted due to operations of several cement factories in the area, which have extracted the underground water in huge quantities. During the case proceedings, the CJ ordered the cement factories to submit a report regarding the water being used in the factories. He also directed the deputy commissioner Chakwal to find out from where the factories were getting the water. "The depleted Katas Raj pond next to the temple should be refilled," the top judge remarked, adding, “Even if you have to take water tankers, take them but fill up the pond.”

At an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court had barred the cement factories from using potable water, as it admonished the private cement factories for preferring profits over the environment.

In November last year, the top court had taken notice of reports that the pond next to the Katas Raj temple was drying up because cement factories nearby were allegedly drawing a large amount of water.

Liability payment The Supreme Court (SC) Friday ordered Iqbal Z Ahmad to pay Rs1.5 billion to Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) as admitted liability on his Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL), a private-sector gas processing plant.

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, also directed Advocate Khwaja Tariq Rahim, counsel for Mr Ahmad, to sit with the SSGC officials and come up with a proposal to settle disputed liability of Rs1.8 billion on the gas processing plant.

Earlier, the counsel requested the court to allow functioning of the plant as it had been causing a great loss to the nation. He pointed out that over 72,000-ton liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) had been imported by Pakistan after the closure of the JJVL.

However, Chief Justice Nisar asked the lawyer to pay the liability of the SSGC, which was also nation’s money, if he wanted to get the gas supply to the plant resumed. “We are not going to pass any order against the interest of the public,” said the chief justice.

Referring to era of Gen Pervez Musharraf, the chief justice said there was a time when Mr Iqbal Z Ahmad used to rule, but now there was only the rule of law. Mr Ahmad was also present in the court.

“Ask your client to pay the nation’s money and we allow you to start the plant,” the chief justice gave an offer to the counsel.

The chief justice also reminded Mr Ahmad that he had been earning billions of rupees under the garb of stay orders obtained from the Sindh High Court years ago. He said record of all those cases was being summoned to the Supreme Court for reaching a decision.

A representative of a charted accountancy firm presented details of the liabilities of the JJVL to be paid to the SSGC.

Advocate Raheem sought three-month time for payment of the admitted liability; however, the chief justice gave eight weeks to him for the purpose.