SC directs DG Cement to deposit Rs100m in dam fund, wraps up Katas Raj pond case

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday concluded the Katas Raj case and ordered D.G. Khan Cement Company Limited to deposit Rs100 million into the SC Dam Fund — Rs80m as payment for water utilised by the factory and a Rs20m penalty for attempting to mislead the apex court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar issued the directives at the SC Lahore Registry while hearing a suo motu case initiated following media reports that the Katas Raj temple pond — considered sacred by Hindus — was drying out.

During earlier hearings of the case, the bench had been told that nearby cement factories had sucked up large quantities of groundwater through a number of drill bores. The bores had severely reduced subsoil water levels and affected water usage of domestic users, as well as causing the pond’s water levels to drop.

The court subsequently barred cement factories from extracting groundwater from the area. In today’s hearing, a special committee ─ tasked by the court in the last hearing to visit the DG Cement factory in Chakwal to determine how it stores water — submitted its report to the bench.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar said in his remarks that DG Cement claimed to have stored rainwater, but this was a lie since they had actually obtained groundwater.

During an earlier hearing, Justice Nisar had observed that the cement factories caused damage to the environment by using up the area’s water as well as causing air pollution. “The people who are not doing anything for water are not sincere with this country; those taking no measures for water [provision] are enemies of this country,” the CJP had remarked.

The CJP said factory owners must have used influence to get permission to establish cement factories in the area. He admonished a former secretary industries, Khalid Sherdil, “for giving away everything for free”, at which the official responded that a no-objection certificate was not a requirement when the factories were established.

The CJP noted that the factories had not taken any measures to resolve the issues voluntarily and that the owners only think of their own profits.