Katas Raj case: SC bars cement factories from using potable water

ISLAMABAD, July 10 (INP): The Supreme Court on Tuesday barred cement factories from using potable water, as it admonished the private cement factories for putting profits before the environment.

The apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the depleted Katas Raj pond in Chakwal – a revered site for Hindus which is said to have depleted due to operations in the vicinity of several cement factories that have sucked out the underground water.

The Supreme Court had wrapped up its suo motu notice of the poor condition of the Katas Raj pond back in May this year, after assurance from cement factories to arrange alternative sources of water and pay for water use. However, irked by the non-implementation of its orders, a Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan took up hearing on the case once again and reprimanded the cement factories for wasteful use of potable water. In his remarks during the hearing, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar observed that cement factories were consuming millions of rupees’ worth of water without paying their dues. The governments have been complicit in this wastage, he remarked, questioning why the Punjab government had not yet imposed taxes on cement factories. We will impose the taxes ourselves, the chief justice remarked. The court then barred the cement factories from using potable water, and adjourned hearing of the case till August 1. Before concluding the case on May 8, the Supreme Court had ordered the factories to submit Rs2 billion as bank security, and had also warned of shutting down the factories for their gross negligence. The factories had assured the chief justice that they would arrange alternative sources of water in six months. INP/LK/AK